Monday, January 21, 2008

Due south of this land of ice and snow the Americans are winding up their Martin Luther King Holiday. In this year of electioneering it has become an occasion for the airing of platitudes. For some others, however, is is a time of profiteering. New Era Cap, of Mobile Alabama, is the exclusive supplier of baseball caps for the major ball leagues in that country, and their actions towards their workers say that the things that King struggled against in his lifetime are still alive in the USA today.
The labour solidarity site, United Students Against Sweatshops, has taken the occasion of Martin Luther King day to call on support for the workers employed by New Era in their struggle for unionization and dignity. Their statement follows. To join this campaign go to the link for their organization highlighted above.
"This weekend we honour Dr. King's dream for justice and equality in America. We all know there is still a long struggle to achieve it, but Dr. King's dream of a land free from bigotry and discrimination has turned to a nightmare for Mobile workers at New Era Cap, Major League Baseball's exclusive maker of baseball caps.
This past spring, in order to address poverty level wages, racial discrimination and forced overtime, New Era Cap workers in Mobile, Alabama decided to stand up for their rights and fight for justice and equality in their workplace. Workers, the majority of whom are black and female, were being passed over for promotion and were being paid less than white workers. New Era was even disciplining single mothers when they took time off to bring their children to the doctor.
New Era workers courageously stood up for themselves and formed a union to protect their civil rights. In response the company launched a vicious anti-union campaign of systematic bullying and intimidation. New Era management even threatened workers that they could lose their food stamps if the union was voted in. During the course of this campaign New Era Cap terminated more than 20 workers. This past holiday season new Era Cap had laid off an additional 35 workers, causing great hardship to the workers and their families.
Over the past several months civil-rights, student, faith-based and community organizations have come together to support New Era workers and hold New Era accountable for its abuse and discrimination, but New Era refuses to meet workers' simple demands of re-hiring the fired workers, ending all discrimination and allowing all New Era workers to chose union representation without fear of retribution.
It is time for a new day at New Era: We demand justice Today !

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