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Military textile manufacturing workers rally to save their jobs
10
Jun '09
Earlier, 100 Eagle Industries workers in New Bedford, MA, who manufacture backpacks for the U.S. army, rallied outside their factory to save their jobs. Following the May 29 announcement by Alliant Techsystems (ATK), owner of Eagle Industries, that the plant will be closed on July 31, the workers called on the U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center, the agency that manages Eagle's New Bedford contract, to preserve the jobs.

"We need these jobs to feed our families," said Maria Vieira, a worker at the Eagle plant. "How are we going to survive if ATK takes away our livelihood - on unemployment and welfare? We have to fight for these jobs to the end. We have no other choice."

"This contract was awarded by the Army to New Bedford and it should stay in New Bedford," said Elisa Rios, another worker. "The Army has the power to keep our jobs here and we hope the Army will listen and get involved on our behalf."

"Shutting down this factory is a terrible act of pure greed by ATK," said Guillermo Cosajay, another worker. "They are not doing this to benefit the Army or to save taxpayers money. They are only doing this to benefit themselves and their profits. Putting 350 people out of work is not how a responsible federal contractor acts."

On April 1, ATK, a large defense contractor, purchased Eagle Industries. On May 29, ATK announced that it is closing the New Bedford plant on July 31 and moving production to its facilities in Puerto Rico.

The U.S. Army Natick Soldier Center in Natick, MA manages the Eagle contract and must approve or deny requests to move production to other facilities. New Bedford is listed as the place of production in the original contract.

The Eagle Industries plant in New Bedford, MA employees approximately 350 workers who produce MOLLE (Modular Lightweight Load Carrying Equipment) under a contract with the U.S. Army. Since April 2008, workers there have been trying to form a union. Eagle Industries strenuously resisted these efforts and created fears of job loss for months.

On June 3, Senator Ted Kennedy, Senator John Kerry, and Representative Barney Frank wrote a letter to the U.S. Army Acting Assistant Secretary for Acquisition, Logistics, and Technology calling ATK's decision to close the plant "abrupt and unnecessary." The letter goes on to state that, "What ATK determined was in its corporate interest certainly wasn't in its workers interests, and cannot simply be assumed to be in the U.S. Army's interests."

To read the entire letter, click here:

Under the Berry Amendment, all military apparel and textiles are required to be made in the United States. The Department of Defense is the largest consumer of U.S.-made apparel and textile goods.

Workers United, SEIU is a union of 150,000 workers in the US and Canada who work in the laundry, food service, hospitality, gaming, apparel, textile, manufacturing and distribution industries.

Workers United

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