CLEVELAND, OH (WOIO) - Good news for hundreds of workers at the Hugo Boss Plant.
Employees at the company's factory in Brooklyn overwhelmingly ratified a new three-year contract on Friday. [Read the joint statement from Union and Hugo Boss HERE]
Workers, who once faced with the very real possibility of unemployment should the plant ship jobs overseas, couldn't be happier with the recent turn of events.
"It was a miracle. Miracles happen and it was a miracle and we're just happy that this miracle happened," said Hugo Boss employee Wanda Navarro. "We got a job and we're going to be able to support our family, keep our health insurance, our pension...and I can't even express how I feel right now. I just feel like going dancing or something."
Hugo Boss released the following statement late Friday morning.
Cleveland, Ohio, April 22, 2010. Following prolonged negotiations with the Labor Union, an agreement concerning the HUGO BOSS plant in Cleveland, Ohio, was reached early this Friday morning.
In its efforts to renew the production agreement for the site last year, the company had submitted proposals designed to address some of the competitive imbalances that the facility faced on the global market. After a long period during which there seemed no prospect of reaching a consensus, the trade union signaled its willingness to compromise when negotiations resumed in April, finally paving the way for an agreement.
"We are delighted that - together with the trade union and our employees - we have managed to find a way of keeping our Cleveland location open while we attempt to attack the competitive imbalance at this facility," commented Dr. Andreas Stockert, Chief Operating Officer of HUGO BOSS AG.
Due to the fact that the factory is not operating at full capacity, it is not possible to retain all of the workers. In this context the trade union had recommended that the company offer full-time employment to a smaller number of staff rather seeking a part-time solution. The personnel affected by the cuts will be offered generous severance packages.
Hollywood actor Danny Glover threw his support behind keeping the plant open. He even attended a rally in Brooklyn late last month to offer his moral support to the working families of Hugo Boss. This, after his successful leadership in encouraging Hollywood to boycott Hugo Boss suits at the Oscars.
"They make a fine profit here," Glover had said. "I'm not going to be a judge of whether it's too much or whether it's not enough, but they make a fine profit to keep people employed. They have a social responsible beyond that."
On December 29, Hugo Boss announced it would be closing its Brooklyn manufacturing plant, its only plant in the U.S., and shipping the jobs there overseas. The company had been seeking to cut wages from about $13 per hour to less than $9 per hour. It had also been drastically cutting the hours of its workers. Right in the middle of negotiations, Hugo Boss shocked workers, union leaders, and state and local officials by announcing that it would no longer negotiate and instead would close the plant permanently.
Hugo Boss sells high-end suits - some retail for more than $1,000 - and can afford to manufacture in the United States. Their competitors make high-end suits in union factories in the U.S.
Hugo Boss' decision was not based on economic necessity. The company is profitable and growing. It spends millions on fancy ads and sports sponsorships like Davis Cup tennis, Indy Car Racing, sailing, golf and soccer.