No holiday for the workers at Primo Coats.
From Mercedes Villamar’s precision cutting to Michel Melius’s hand-sewn collars, union members at the Primo Coats factory in Brooklyn produce high quality, high-end men’s custom suits. With years of professional experience, these highly-skilled workers are some of the best in the business. Their jobs require constant focus, attention to detail, and refined manual dexterity. They work long hours in a dimly lit factory, sweltering even on a rainy autumn day, to make some of the finest luxury suits that are sold for thousands in air-conditioned showrooms in the city. Because there aren’t enough chairs in the lunch area, some of the workers have to stand during their lunch break or eat in the stairwell. Without a doubt, these are tough jobs.
On top of their regular workload, though, Workers United members at Primo Coats have put up with a lot over the years.
Their retirement has been put at risk because their employer has in the past suspended payments to the pension unilaterally. He has taken dues from their checks and delayed submitting them to the union. But this September when the boss decided to go on holiday without paying the workers, Workers United members finally said enough is enough. When the boss came in on Monday morning, there was no cutting, no sewing, no steaming of suits. The workers had organized themselves and decided that no work would get done until the matter was cleared up. Because of their united action, the boss had to give in and the matter was resolved. But soon, he was up to old antics, delaying a contractual wage increase. Union leadership stepped in to ensure that the increase would be back paid in the next week’s check. There’s no way to know if this is the end of the boss’s efforts to undermine worker pay and security, but one thing is clear: the WORKERS UNITED will never be defeated.
Union contracts must be respected. And when they are threatened, they must be enforced. Workers United members at Primo Coats have shown that by standing up for their contract and standing together in solidarity the power truly is with the workers.