On October 1 about one hundred garment workers at Southwick Clothing in Haverhill, MA had an after work rally. The workers, members of NEJB Local 187, are currently in negotiations with Southwick, a factory owned by Brooks Brothers that makes high quality menswear. Workers have been negotiating with the company for months but Brooks Brothers refuses to back away from its position of eliminating the current pension plan. In response the union has made creative proposals, even going as far as to offer a unique union pension plan that would limit the company’s liability and costs. To date the workers have been met by a brick wall from the company. Workers are now standing up to protect their pensions and fight for fair wages.
At the rally workers explained why having a strong pension is important to them. “It’s about fairness. Workers at Southwick have had the security of a pension for many years now”, said Stephen O’Connor a 6 year clean-up worker and negotiating committee member. “The company wants to take that away to save a dollar. This benefit has helped make these jobs good jobs. It’s helped establish Southwick as a reputable and iconic company.”
Workers from all departments, all crafts, and from dozens of countries rallied together with the same message: “FAIR CONTRACT, STRONG PENSION, NOW!”