Will New Era Hear the Voices of Local Labor?

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Photo credit Brendan Keany
BUFFALO (WBEN - Brendan Keany) - On Tuesday evening, yet another rally was organized by local labor leaders to support the more than 200 workers of New Era’s Derby plant that are set to be laid off in March.

Local labor leaders beginning to gather outside New Era headquarters in downtown Buffalo. They’re protesting the decision to lay off more than 200 workers at the Derby manufacturing plant. pic.twitter.com/qZUL15V3BD

— WBEN NewsRadio 930AM (@NewsRadio930) February 5, 2019

This was one of several demonstrations by local officials and unions held to voice their displeasure with New Era.

"We are here to say: New Era, if you want to be the hometown team, you need to stay home," said Joe Cantafio of the Western New York Federation of Labor. "Until you decide that you are going to put people over profits, we are saying to New Era, 'New Era hats off.' We are going to take our New Era hats off until they decide that they're going to keep the hometown team here at home. The impact that you are having on the community and over 200 hundred workers, when you are making record profits is not fair. Stop putting profits over people."

County Executive Mark Poloncarz has been one of the main local officials to stand with labor, specifically in the case of the Derby plant workers, and he has been at a number of these demonstrations.

Mark Poloncarz and Erie County Legislator Barbara Miller-Williams speaking at rally outside New Era headquarters. pic.twitter.com/2AlQvwrr9c

— WBEN NewsRadio 930AM (@NewsRadio930) February 5, 2019

"None of us want to be here; it's as simple as that..." began Poloncarz. "We are a better community than this, and I hope the leadership at New Era realized they're a better company than this."

Erie County Legislator Barbara Miller-Williams also made an appearance, and she echoed the sentiments of Poloncarz.

"I stand in solidarity with the union workers because losing over 200 jobs in unacceptable in Western New York," she said. "It is important for us to stand together to ensure that a quality product is maintained and stays here in Western New York."

Unfortunately, so far, these rallies have yielded little in terms of results, as President/CEO Chris Koch has not come to the negotiating table.

More from the scene at New Era headquarters: pic.twitter.com/DqrE0SXK1S

— WBEN NewsRadio 930AM (@NewsRadio930) February 5, 2019

"The latest that we've heard from him, he said they have no though whatsoever to change their mind, they're going to continue to do this," said Cantafio. "He has openly admitted that they're making profits, he has openly admitted that this is nothing more than to make more money."

However, the local labor leaders say they will continue to fight for their brothers and sisters in Derby until move is finalized.

"We want you to put people over profits, and right now we're hoping that, over this next month, if we can get enough people in this community and across the country to realize this, then they will change and they will make the right choice," said Cantafio. "We are hoping that New Era will make the right choice, and we don't have to go boycotting their product. We hope New Era will make that flag in their logo actually mean American union made."