Workers and management at a Pennsylvania garment factory that makes Major League Baseball’s official game uniforms have reached a labor agreement that will preserve health benefits and provide pay raises, a positive end to what nearly turned into a full-fledged labor dispute. The workers at the VF Majestic factory voted overwhelmingly to approve the agreement, a release from the Service Employees International Union said.
The labor agreement between workers and management ended at the beginning of June, but the union held out hope it could reach a deal that maintained workers’ health benefits without a strike. The new agreement maintains the “current level of health insurance benefits without significant increases in worker premiums,” according to the release. VF Majestic had sought to double the amount workers paid in health care premiums, but under the agreement, workers will instead shift onto the union health plan. That will avoid cost increases for both workers and Majestic. The agreement also grants the workers “reasonable cost-of-living” pay increases for workers whose average wage is less than $11 an hour, according to SEIU.
The players who wear the uniforms made in the factory were supportive of the workers, as the Major League Baseball Players Association came out in support of their efforts to maintain benefits in May. MLBPA Executive Director Michael Weiner told the workers to “stick together so that you can achieve…a fair contract with good wages, good health care and respect on the job.” Of the players’ role in the process, Weiner said, “We take seriously our role as a union.”
“The members of the PA Joint Board, Workers United SEIU greatly appreciate the support they received from the Major League Baseball Players Association and look forward to working with VF to keep the MLB equipped with uniforms that are made in America,” David Melman, manager of Pennsylvania Joint Board of Workers United, said in the statement.
Labor law limits what unions like the MLBPA can do to assist other unions involved in disputes or negotiations, but it has in the past spoken out on behalf of workers. It publicly opposed the push for an anti-union “right-to-work” law in Michigan last fall, telling ThinkProgress at the time that it “all union members — either auto workers, teachers, firefighters, or the American League champion Detroit Tigers — oppose legislation designed to weaken unions.”