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Hollander PA plant joins union strike

Marvin Lazaro -- Home Textiles Today, May 7, 2001

BOCA RATON, FL — Hollander Home Fashions' ongoing union problems continued last week when employees at its plant in Pennsylvania went on strike.

Approximately 120 Hollander employees went on strike at the company's Frackville, PA, facility. According to a statement made by the Union of Needletrades, Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE), the decision to strike was made after employees rejected a contract offer from Hollander. The lack of a company-paid retirement plan for production employees is the central issue around which the strike revolves, as are unfair labor policies which the union alleges the home textiles manufacturer of practicing.

Hollander does not provide its production workers with a paid insurance plan, but does for its management and executives, a practice that UNITE claims is discriminatory. But Hollander adamantly contends that production employees should have a choice about where to invest their money, if at all, whether it be in a 401(k) plan, personal investments or a government IRA.

"It's truly a shame that in 2001 this company refuses to grant employees a retirement program," said Harold Bock, co-director, UNITE mid-Atlantic region. "Workers at Hollander deserve better."

Approximately 500 employees from Hollander's Vernon, CA, plant and another 100 from its Tignall, GA, plant have been striking since early March over the lack of a company-paid retirement plan. Vernon employees walked off their jobs on March 8, while Tignall employees, despite the existence of a contract, walked out on March 12 as a show of solidarity.

The resulting work stoppages, according to Jeff Hollander, president, have not affected the company's production or shipping schedules.

"We're committed to servicing everybody," he told Home Textiles Today. "In the first day [of the Frackville strike], we produced about 75 percent of our numbers, so I expect we'll be at full capacity by next week."

Hollander said that the company had taken measures to prepare for the strike, including stocking several days worth of inventory as well as working with temp agencies to supply workers. He added that although some customers had expressed concern, none had made any complaints about the level of service they were receiving.

Although UNITE contends that all Hollander employees walked off the job, Hollander said that roughly 60 percent of the employees at the Frackville plant never left and reported for work the day the strike had been called. He said the number of people who reported to work came as no surprise to him since the company had offered the workers there a "great package," which included a 401(k) plan, improved insurance and good wage increases. The rest of the work force was covered by temps and management.

UNITE also claimed that all of the employees at the Vernon and Tignall plants had walked off and continue to strike, but according to Hollander, significant percentages of the workers had returned to their jobs at both facilities.

"My guess is that this should be resolved within the next two to three weeks," he said. "If not, we're moving forward with our plans," which include temporarily moving work to other factories, working second shifts and working with contractors.

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