June 2009

IBEW Mayor Reaches out to President to Save Garment Jobs

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Only a week after taking office as mayor of Des Plaines, a suburb of Chicago, Local 134 Business Representative Marty Moylan wrote to President Barack Obama asking for his help in saving the jobs of 500 union workers at his city’s Hartmarx apparel factory, makers of Obama’s custom suits.

Two bidders on the manufacturer’s assets are weighing keeping the Illinois plant open, but financial giant Wells Fargo is considering pulling the plug.

Moylan asked Obama to intervene to prevent the liquidation of the 122-year-old company (formerly Hart Schaffner & Marx), based on the fact that Wells Fargo has been the beneficiary of approximately $15 billion in federal bailout funds and has asked for more.

“The net result of these funds being available is that instead of stimulating the economy, bankers are making obvious decisions to possibly close American businesses and put people out of work. This is exactly opposite of what the stimulus program is supposed to accomplish,” said Moylan.

Preventing liquidation, said Moylan, “is important, not only from a financial perspective, but also philosophically—we must invest in Ameri-can companies and American jobs.”

On May 4, Moylan joined State Treasurer Alexi Giannoulias, union officials and U.S. Rep. Phil Hare at a rally in support of Hartmarx workers. “These are good-paying union jobs. It’s important to support American-made products,” says Moylan.

On May 11, workers at Hartmarx, members of Workers United, voted in favor of a “sit-in,” pledging to remain at their job site if Wells Fargo or a buyer attempts to close the factory. Organized by the International Ladies Garment Workers Union nearly 100 years ago, Hartmarx now employs 3,500 workers nationwide.

A 43-year journeyman wireman, Moylan won the mayor’s race with a 1,500-vote margin over three candidates in the city of 54,000.

During his campaign, he knocked on 5,000 doors throughout the city and received strong support from Local 134 co-workers, the building trades and other labor organizations.

Marty Moylan, Local 134 Business Representative