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Agreement Reached to End New Era Derby Strike

By Eileen Buckley

Derby, NY – A strike that pitted workers against a major baseball cap manufacturer is nearing an end after eleven months. A tentative contract agreement was reached between New Era Cap in Derby and the Communications Workers of America.

New Era Cap workers in Derby hit the picket lines last July. Union workers were not happy with wages, production at the plant and health and safety issues. But after two years of negotiations and the eleven month strike, both sides finally reached a deal.

New Era says the tentative, four-year contract, provides wage increases and contributions for health insurance. Dave Palmer, area director with the Communications Workers of America, says he could not disclose details of the tentative deal, but says it meets the union needs regarding safety issues.

"The union bargaining committee is very pleased that we reached agreement on the outstanding issues," Palmer said, "particularly with respect to health and safety and wage and benefit issues."

John DeWaal, director of marketing at New Era, says the company is pleased with the agreement.

During the strike, New Era faced some tough accusations from the union on safety and working conditions. But DeWaal says the company is trying recover from statements made during the labor dispute.

"Through out the whole situation we were able to maintain what we also felt was a good American company and just trying to provide good American jobs," DeWaal said.

The union says CWA members will review the tentative deal this Thursday and vote on the contract June 21st.

"The picket lines have come down subject to ratification," Palmer explained. "Obviously if there is a problem with ratification, we go back to square one. But we have no reason to believe that will be the case."

New Era says it did hire additional workers during the strike to continue production. Both the union and New Era say returning striking workers to their jobs was part of tentative agreement.