London Fog, union to meet in D.C.

June 25, 1994|By Ross Hetrick | Ross Hetrick,Sun Staff Writer

With the fate of three plants and 700 jobs hanging in the balance, union and management officials at London Fog Corp. are scheduled to meet on Wednesday in Washington at the request of two Maryland congressmen.

The meeting, called by Rep. Kweisi Mfume, a Baltimore Democrat, and Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, a Western Maryland Republican, is an effort to break a three-month impasse between London Fog and the union representing its workers, the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers.

London Fog officials have said the company is considering closing raincoat plants in Baltimore, Hancock and Williamsport because of the dispute. "We are hoping people will cool the rhetoric a little and start talking again," said Daniel A. Willson, press secretary for Mr. Mfume. "We don't have an agenda going in other than to save hundreds of jobs."

Neither of the congressmen was available for comment.

A meeting may also be requested in coming weeks by Gov. William Donald Schaefer, according to Mark L. Wasserman, secretary of the Department of Economic and Employment Development.

The 300-worker Baltimore plant, at Park Circle Enterprise Zone in northwest Baltimore, sews the coats together, as does the factory in Hancock, which also has 300 employees. The Williamsport operation, with about 100 workers, cuts the material before it is sent to the other two plants. Workers make a base hourly wage of $7.60.

The dispute centers on the company's proposal to make Towne coats -- which have been made overseas -- at the three plants, which would reduce production costs by spreading fixed expenses over more products.

The plants currently make only coats bearing the London Fog label.

The Wednesday meeting will be the first meeting between the two sides since late April, according to Carmen S. Papale, international vice president and the top Maryland official for the Amalgamated Clothing Workers. "I would like to see if the company is willing to negotiate or whether they are going to be adamant," Mr. Papale said.

Arnold P. Cohen, London Fog's chairman and chief executive officer, was noncommittal about the meeting's prospects. "We have no objectives," he said. "We are proceeding with our business as we must."

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