Labor Contract to Be Renewd
From The World Journal
April 3, 2004
The first meeting was held recently on renewing the labor contract
for another three years, which is crucial to Chinatown’s
garment industry. Manufacturers are reviewing demands made by UNITE
Local 23-25, which represents apparel workers. It’s the first
time, however, for the contract to be renewed since the September
11th attacks battered the industry. Both employers and labor have
softened their attitudes and approached the deal in a sincere and
May Ying Chen, Vice President of Local
23-25, said yesterday the negotiation is still in an initial stage
and declined to elaborate
on the new contract. But she emphasized that the demands made by
the union are reasonable. The new deal ensures workers’ benefits,
including healthcare, vacation and pensions, and protects their
rights to complain to employers, Chen added. But she declined to
say how much of a wage increase the union has asked for.
11th attacks have sped up the decline of the garment industry.
Last year, the SARS epidemic in Asia and the Iraq war
further depressed the trade. Nearly half of Chinatown’s clothing
factories have closed. The U.S. economic transition and the influx
of overseas products have made local production even more fragile.
Manufacturers have sustained losses, and the workforce has been
shrinking from its once remarkable scale. Teddy Lai, Executive
Director of Greater Blouse, Skirt and Undergarment Association,
said yesterday factory owners have been worried not by a shrinking
market, but by the loss of labor.
When asked about the new contract,
Lai said he had just received the union’s demands and was
talking with his attorneys. Though he declined to be specific,
Lai said his association would treat
the terms seriously. He promised to improve labor’s welfare
but stressed a win-win solution.
Alice Ip, Local 23-25’s Community
Liaison Director, said yesterday the first day of negotiation was
peaceful and void of
contention. Ip said she hoped neither side would be antagonistic
and suggested they come up with a reasonable contract through calm
consultation, which upholds labor’s benefits and ensures
the industry’s stability and survival.
The original contract
will run out on May 31st. If it were to be renewed for another
three years, the new deal will come into effect
in June and run through 2007.
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Translated from Chinese by Shasha Dai.