Hoekstra Victorious in Obtaining UNITE Records

On Jul. 15, Rep. Peter Hoekstra (R-MI) finally got the documents from the Mademoiselle Knitwear Chapter 11 bankruptcy case. Hoekstra’s committee is investigating how well workers are protected under current labor law. The documents contain information about liquidated damage payments made by Liz Claiborne, former Mademoiselle customer, to the Union of Needletrades, Industrial & Textiles Employees. UNITE initially contested Hoekstra subpoenas for the records which have a confidentiality seal imposed by bankruptcy judge. UNITE agreed to allow Mademoiselle to turn over the documents after 2 weeks of negotiations with Hoekstra’s staff and after court approval on Jul. 13. Liquidated damages are a long-standing feature of apparel union contracts. They are penalties paid by apparel manufacturers when they violate union contracts by using nonunion producers. Mademoiselle has claimed in a lawsuit against Claiborne and UNITE that the charges represented a “bribe” so that Claiborne could get out of obligations to provide work to Mademoiselle. [Capital Cities Media 07/14/98]

House Rejects Paxon Union Dues Amendment
In blow against union accountability, the U.S. House of Representatives voted 248-150, according Majority Whip Tom Delay (R-TX), against Rep. Bill Paxon’s (R-NY) amendment requiring unions to report the amounts spent on political activities. The measure also would have required these reports posted on the internet for rank-and-file union members and the public to view. This amendment was part of the debate on the Shays-Meehan campaign regulation bill
that aims to restrict free speech.