(Washington, D.C.) – Today, NAACP Chairman Julian Bond and Teamsters General President Jim Hoffa asked Major League Baseball (MLB) to intervene with the MLB’s exclusive on-field cap manufacturer, New Era Cap, in an effort to end racial discrimination and worker rights violations in New Era’s distribution center in Mobile, Alabama. The NAACP also released today its report of the investigation it recently undertook at the request of workers at the facility.
Titled “Racial Discrimination, Repression and Retaliation at New Era Cap,” the report documents conditions that include a lack of promotion of experienced black workers; poverty-level wages with significant differences in pay between black and white workers; and a fierce, retaliatory anti-union campaign, in the course of which more than 20 workers were terminated. Despite these tactics employed by the company, New Era’s 111 Mobile workers voted last July to join the Teamsters.
“What the hardworking men and women at the Mobile New Era facility want is not unreasonable. They simply want the fair treatment and opportunities that all Americans should have, and that New Era has accorded its Northern workers in Buffalo. They want an end to management’s racially discriminatory promotion practices, respect and a living wage in return for a hard day’s work.” said Julian Bond, Chairman of the Board of the NAACP.
“I am confident that Major League Baseball will join us in demanding that New Era end the disgraceful and discriminatory situation at its Mobile, Alabama facility,” Bond said.
“New Era’s management tactics in Mobile date back to the bad old days of the Old South, or the factory systems of the turn of the century,” Hoffa said. “They have no place in today’s America. And they have no place in the company that makes the official team caps for the All-American pastime.”
In addition to manufacturing Major League Baseball’s official caps, New Era is the supplier for a number of NBA, NHL, and collegiate teams. The company also makes popular caps for Hip Hop fans.
Hoffa’s and Bond’s outreach to Major League Baseball comes against the backdrop of a rising groundswell of protest against New Era’s worker and human rights abuses by student groups, civil rights organizations, labor, and religious groups. These groups are going to consumers—and to the dozens of universities that have suppliers’ agreements with New Era—to demand change in the company’s treatment of its Southern workers.
“We’re proud to join with the NAACP, which has fought for equality and justice in America for close to 100 years, to demand better lives and better opportunities for New Era workers. We call on Major League Baseball to do the same,” said Hoffa. “We are putting New Era on notice that this effort to abolish inequality and injustice will not cease until New Era ends the discriminatory and humiliating conditions at its Mobile plant.”
Founded in 1909, the NAACP is the nation's oldest and largest civil rights organization. Its members throughout the world are advocates for civil rights in their communities, conducting voter mobilization and monitoring equal opportunity in the public and private sectors. Founded in 1903, the Teamsters Union represents more than 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.
Download the NAACP's report, "Racial Discrimination, Repression and Retaliation at New Era Cap: One Company's Crusade to Deny Employees Their Right to Choose Union Representation."