Union Branches Merge
From The World Journal
November 12, 2003
Local 23-25 and Local 155 of Union of Needletrades,
Industrial and Textile Employees (UNITE) merged earlier this month
the Metropolitan Area Joint Board. Union leaders said they would
try to incorporate more branches to bolster the declining garment
industry and beef up unionists’ power.
The merger will not
affect the current benefits enjoyed by members, said May Ying
Chen, Vice President of Local 23-25. The only change
is that member’s identification cards will be replaced
with new photo IDs, she said.
Local 23-25 President Edgar Romney
was appointed manager of the Metropolitan Area Joint Board. When
asked whether she will succeed
him as President of Local 23-25, Chen replied that that would
be determined through the union election in January.
hope that the money and resources saved as a result of the merger
would be used to pay for workers’ medical care,
and reduce the burden on them.
Chen said the merger was a result
of changes in the economic environment and the government’s
trade policies. More clothing factories are closing, and more workers
are losing their jobs, she said,
resulting in union branches with fewer members. The merger will
help pool resources and streamline operations and administration,
and the new board will provide more services and attract more
workers to join, she added.
Local 155 used to have many Chinese
members, but now its 1,000-plus members are mostly Hispanic. They
used to make knit sweaters
and are now producing more curtains, Chen said. Local 23-25 has
to 8,000 members.
Other union staff members said the merger would help strengthen
workers’ influence, especially when negotiating contracts
with employers, and also attract dropouts back into the union.
is hard to predict what impact the merger will have on garment
entrepreneurs, said Teddy Lai, Executive Director of Greater
Blouse, Skirt and Undergarment Association. He said he hoped
would take advantage of reduced costs to help share the burden
of paying for workers’ welfare. Entrepreneurs will be disadvantaged
now that they face more unionists, he said.
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Translated from Chinese by Shasha Dai