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The Harvard Coop has joined with many large merchandisers nationwide in support of the union boycott of J.P. Stevens and Company, a North Carolina textile manufacturer with an extensive history of labor relations problems.
The Coop removed $2800 worth of J.P. Stevens merchandise from its shelves, following customer requests to do so, Howard W. Davis, general manager of the Coop, said last week.
Although the board of directors voted not to advertise their support of the boycott, it ordered the removal of the "inconsequential amount of merchanidse until the J.P. Stevens conflict could be resolved," Davis added.
Michael Schippani, the New England boycott coordinator, said last week he thinks "it is an excellent start when a merchandiser like the Coop acknowledges that there is a conflict around selling J.P Stevens products."
"What's disappointing is the fact that they will not take a firm and meaningful position," he added.
Smith said the Coop was not trying to judge the matter, because it was not completely familiar with the situation. He said the Coop was merely responding to its members' interest in the situation.
James R. Franklin, an administrative assistant at J.P Stevens in New York, said yesterday "we didn't even know the Coop was a customer." He declined further comment.
The National Labor Relations Board has ruled over the past 13 years that J.P. Stevens has engaged in illegal anti-union activities. The board ordered the company to rehire 289 employees it had illegally fired and to compensate them for back pay totalling $1.3 million.
"It is just a drop in the bucket as far as they are concerned," David G. Blankenhorn '77, said last week.
Blankenhorn said it was to the company's advantage to pay the fines. "Its strategy is to continue to break the law, because it is a very small price for them to pay," he added.
Workers at J.P Stevens earn an average wage of $3.46 an hour, which is about 30 to 40 per cent less than the national average for textile workers, Schippani said yesterday.
Schippani, terming the pension system "downright inhumane," said a man who worked 27 years for the company is only eligible for a pension of $10 a month. "It is absolutely absurd," he said.
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