If you care about worker's rights, check the manufacturer on that ball cap before you buy it, because it looks like all is not well at the New Era Cap facility in Mobile, Alabama:
A New Era Cap Company facility that distributes hats with University trademarks is under investigation by a national labor rights group for allegedly racially discriminating against workers in pay, hiring and promotion decisions.
The Worker Rights Consortium, a Washington, D.C.-based labor monitoring group, said in a statement last week that it would proceed with "a full factory assessment" of the distribution facility in Mobile, Ala. after black employees reported discriminatory wage and hiring practices.
Workers at the plant voted to join the Teamsters last July and are still negotiating a contract. New Era announced a 35 person layoff, just in time for Thanksgiving and workers smell retaliation against pro-union employees.
“These layoffs are another shameful tactic by New Era to scare and punish workers for seeking fair pay and a fair chance to move ahead without being hobbled by racial discrimination,” Hoffa said. “Clearly New Era has no commitment to negotiating a fair contract. The company continues to try to exploit and intimidate workers. Now they’re taking money out of workers’ pockets at the holiday season. It doesn’t get any meaner or greedier than this.”
New Era denies the discrimination claims, saying they are a member of the Fair Labor Association, which requires "a stringent code of conduct that includes providing a workplace free of discrimination of any kind." Of course, Tim Freer, New Era's vice president of global human resources, sits on the Fair Labor Association's board, but New Era doesn't see that as a conflict of interest. No. Certainly not.
The lack of black supervisors certainly raises questions as to whether promotions at New Era are really equal opportunity.
Black workers at the Mobile plant with years of experience have been passed over for promotion in favor of white workers. All but one manager at the Mobile plant, out of a management/administrative staff of more than 20, is white.
"When workers wanted to address this discrimination by forming a union, New Era management used every means in its power to bully them out of a free choice. Management ran a systematic intimidation campaign. They even told workers that workers would jeopardize their food stamps by voting for a union.
I find the idea that New Era pays so little that their workers qualify for food stamps almost as disturbing as the charges of racial discrimination. What kind of a job doesn't pay enough to keep you off food stamps? New Era Cap also has a plant at Jackson, Alabama and conditions there don't sound any better than at Mobile.