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News :: Globalization : Human Rights : Labor : Organizing
Proman Manufacturing Co. Laying-Off Chinatown Workers without Severance Pay
18 Jul 2005
On July 16, 2005, a picket line of workers took over the entrance of Proman Manufacturing Company to protest unfair labor practices by this 61-year-old sportswear manufacturing company in Chinatown. Its owner, Joseph Proman, recently confirmed the company will be closing by the end of July and laying-off all of its 40-plus Chinese and Latino workers without severance pay.

Alice Leung, community organizer for the Chinese Progressive Association Workers Center (CPAWC), said that Mr. Proman did not give any formal notice to its workers who learned the company is moving to China from one of their supervisors. Since then, CPAWC and the American Friends Service Committee have helped Proman Co. workers organize themselves to defend their labor rights and be treated with dignity.
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Proman Manufacturing Co. Laying Off Chinatown Workers without Severance Pay
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Proman Manufacturing Co. Laying Off Chinatown Workers without Severance Pay
“The workers are really nervous because Proman called the police last Monday to intimidate them,” said Ms. Leung, “The picket line today is to bust morale.”

According to CPAWC, Joseph Proman and his lawyer claim the company has no money to pay severance, but with sales totaling $5.6 million last year alone, CPAWC members believe it is in excellent condition to meet the workers demands. Mr. Proman owns property worth $2.5 million in Newton, MA, including a 5-bedroom, 7-bath mansion with a swimming pool. Mr. Proman declined to answer any questions for this article.

This past Friday, the workers had a small victory when Mr. Proman paid a full two-week vacation that he owed them since July 1st. They have vowed, however, to continue protests until the rest of their demands are met: one week of severance for every year of work for all employees, compensation for every day short of the 60 days notice they should have received about the factory closure, and Mr. Proman’s cooperation with state and city agencies in requesting Trade Adjustment Assistance for worker retraining.

Workers report poor labor practices at Proman Manufacturing Company including low wages, unsafe working conditions, and intimidation. Proman reportedly yells at the workers for failing to meet production goals, when products are returned, or machinery fails. Most employees make only $6.75 per hour.

One worker, who preferred not to be named, mentioned how injuries at the factory are common. Many women have pierced their fingers with needles and one injured her eye after a piece of scrap metal jumped from a faulty sowing machine. No goggles or gloves are provided.

“It’s not fair to work for twelve years for them,” he said, “to have the doors closed on my face.” He is the father of four children, pays $1,700 a month for rent and has been looking for a job, with no luck so far, since he found out about the company’s plans to close fifteen days ago.

“Most of the workers are over 50 years old,” said Gabriel Camacho, community organizer for the Americans Friends Service Committee, “and the economy is not that good in this country.”

According to CPAWC, Mr. Proman blamed high rent prices in Chinatown for closing down the factory. Ms. Lewing believes gentrification in the area has forced many residents and businesses out. “It has deeply affected the working class and Chinese community here,” she said.

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Re: Proman Manufacturing Co. Laying Off Chinatown Workers without Severance Pay
18 Jul 2005
sign a petition to support Proman workers:

http://www.unionvoice.org/campaign/proman
Re: Proman Manufacturing Co. Laying-Off Chinatown Workers without Severance Pay
18 Jul 2005
Bahhahahaha

Internet petitions....

Most of these workers probably don't even the internet.
Re: Proman Manufacturing Co. Laying-Off Chinatown Workers without Severance Pay
19 Jul 2005
I wonder how many other companies your union has caused to go to China? Try to compete in the U.S. with all the crazy laws and then add your unions. There is no wonder he moved to China.
Re: Proman Manufacturing Co. Laying-Off Chinatown Workers without Severance Pay
19 Jul 2005
it's alice leung, not "lewing"
More photographs from the picket line
19 Jul 2005
Proman workers and supporters rally for justice.


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Re: Proman Manufacturing Co. Laying-Off Chinatown Workers without Severance Pay
20 Jul 2005
You are missing the point if you think unions are the cause of companies moving over seas. Unions ensure that the people in these companies that are actually doing the work get their fair share of the profits. The reason companies move over seas is because the owners would rather make more money for themselves then support their fellow citizens with a fair wage.
They fail to see that by denying the people in their community a living wage, they are just making more people dependant upon government hand outs which are ultimately a waste of money if these people are able and willing to work (as all these people seem to be). This drives up taxes and makes living in the area even harder for everyone including the business owners. If the owner of this company would just provide people with a livable wage, decent benefits and their promised pensions, then the company would continue to profit (if at a reduced rate) and the community could prosper.
In short, if the owner was willing to live a more moderate, sustainable life style, then the situation would be better for everyone.
Re: Proman Manufacturing Co. Laying-Off Chinatown Workers without Severance Pay
21 Jul 2005
Ben, I've had to work with unions in MA. It was the teamsters and the IBEW. Every chance I got, I had products manufactured in NH where there was no union. One example: I was working at a NH plant and had to go to the MA plant. I put an item in my car that had to go to MA. The wonderful teamsters had a fit because someone could have driven a truck up to NH and collected overtime to get it. What a waste of gas and resourses. The wonderful IBEW would complain if we moved test equipment in our engineering labs. By the way, that company moved its R&D out of MA and away from the unions.
Re: Proman Manufacturing Co. Laying-Off Chinatown Workers without Severance Pay
25 Jul 2005
NONE of you UNDERSTAND the real truth behind what is going on here. HE IS NOT MOVING TO CHINA, and HE IS NOT LAYING OFF WORKERS, he is going out of business, FOR GOOD. HE IS NOT RELOCATING, NOT LOOKING TO MAKE MORE PROFITS WITH THIS COMPANY. These people have wasted time picketing, because if they want to see Proman MFG fail, or if they think it's going to help them, they are wrong. All of the Chinese workers in his factory have been vastly misled by the Chinese Progressive Society. ALL of the crap you have been reading is based off of lies, false ideas, and everything. These people simply do not understand how business is run, which doesn't make them bad people, but it's unfortunate.

Proman is NOT keeping anyone to work there. If they don't like it, they can leave. It's as simple as that. It's amazing how none of us have heard about the supposedly "POOR" environment of this business, but guess what? BECAUSE he is closing, suddenly the complaining comes out.

He is not moving to China. He is going out of business, for good, and moving on with his life. Do you REALLY think that sending him letters, and accusing him of false facts makes him want to HELP all the workers? Sorry, get the right story before you comment. ALL of these reports ON EVERY SINGLE WEBSITE concering this specific matter with Proman, is untrue, and it's a shame that websites post these stories without getting background information about it. It makes me sick to my stomach.

One last thing, all these workers say how they've worked for him oh so long and he wouldn't be anywhere without their help. Well you know what? WHERE WOULD THEY BE IF IT WASN'T FOR PROMAN? WHAT JOBS WOULD THEY HAVE FOUND? They may have found something, but you know what? Life's not fair all the time. Proman lost business after business, and because of this, he has to COMPLETELY close. NOT moving to China and laying these workers off. He is NOT going anywhere new. So all you people who hastle him and make his life even worse, maybe you should get the real story. I'm done.
Re: Proman Manufacturing Co. Laying-Off Chinatown Workers without Severance Pay
07 Aug 2005
I think the main issue was severence and the fact that the workers were not notified properly prior to being laid off. However, that opened doors to other issues, such as years of mistreatment.
Re: Proman Manufacturing Co. Laying-Off Chinatown Workers without Severance Pay
09 Aug 2005
If they were all being so unfairly mistreated, why did they wait until he was out of business, why didn't they complain before this with all the "power" that was displayed on the day of the petitioning? What would have been fair to them, three months notice? I believe in situations like this, it doesn't make sense for anyone in America to own their own business anymore. The unions own everyone's business these days. No wonder most businesses are moving out of this country and overseas!! That is surely not Proman Manufacturings fault. Most businesses that go out of business do so because they are out of money - where do they thinkn the "severance" was going to come from. Get real!
Re: Proman Manufacturing Co. Laying-Off Chinatown Workers without Severance Pay
21 Aug 2005
I'm "none of you get it" from the long post above, I'm the same person. I'm not saying what I think happened, I'm saying what I KNOW happened. I KNOW the real truth behind this story. This is over now, and everything was handled legally, and when this company officially closed, the workers who caused him so much pain realized how wrong they were. I know this for a fact, mainly because I am directly connected with this issue. He never went overseas, he's out of business because he lost money. He's been losing money for years, and when Franklin ditched Proman to go to China, that was the kiss of death on Proman. Like I said, all these websites have posted false stories concerning this issue. He PAID THEM SEVERENCE!! That's why this issue is stupid! They were complaining over NOTHING!

But yeah, I know what really happened with this story so I figured I post it. Proman is now officially out of business, by the way. He's not in China either, he's at home trying to figure out how to start making more money.
Re: Proman Manufacturing Co. Laying-Off Chinatown Workers without Severance Pay
29 Sep 2005
I feel bad that you are all losing your jobs, but you are going about this the wrong way, and to someone looking in from the outside, you are making a great man look bad and you all look like morons. I agree with one of the comments below. If many of you have worked in the factory for so many years, how could it have been so bad? Why do all these accusations come about when you find out you are no longer going to work there? What is all this about moving to China? It is because of China that great companiess like this one are closing. Stop wasting your time with bs protesting and false accusations. Stop your whining and get off your rear ends and find new jobs. Joseph Proman is a great man who is having a hard time as it is closing the factory. If you want to put blame on someone, blame China for becoming a production powerhouse and putting US companies out of business. All of you people who have bad things to say about Joe Proman have obviously never met the man, and that just proves your ignorance. Let it go. Use your energy for positive things such as finding new jobs and not putting people down for their misfortune. Thats my piece.
Re: Proman Manufacturing Co. Laying-Off Chinatown Workers without Severance Pay
16 Nov 2005
Same guy as before. Thank you David, couldn't have said it any better.
Re: Proman Manufacturing Co. Laying-Off Chinatown Workers without Severance Pay
16 Nov 2005
Same guy as before. Thank you David, couldn't have said it any better.