UB Professor comments on New Era rally

Poloncarz at New Era rally

republished from WBEN 930am

Release date: December 12, 2018

"Normally, it's not good practice to interfere in the affairs of private companies...At the same time, we see people losing jobs and a factory that has been running for four or five decades, naturally it's something that's going to invite a lot of concern all around, so from that standpoint I guess it is quite acceptable."
Nallan Suresh, UB Distinguished Professor
School of Management

Mark Poloncarz and Assemblymember Sean Ryan headlined the rally outside New Era on Monday, and there were come pretty critical words spoken.

"An international design firm coupled with local union labor - what could be better?" asked Ryan. "But New Era recently announced they're going to do a thing called a pivot," said Ryan.

Ryan is confident that a deal could still be worked out, even though Poloncarz stated that he met with New Era leadership, and a deal doesn't seem likely at this point.

"Our door is open; work with us," said Poloncarz. "I met Chris Koch, and he didn't seem very interested."

Dr. Nallan Suresh is a distinguished professor of operations management at the University at Buffalo, and we asked him if the rally outside New Era was appropriate, given that there were public officials there, as part of a demonstration against a private business.

"Normally, it's not good practice to interfere in the affairs of private companies," he began. "At the same time, we see people losing jobs and a factory that has been running for four or five decades, naturally it's something that's going to invite a lot of concern all around, not only to the workers who are losing jobs after such a long time, so from that standpoint I guess it is quite acceptable."

Poloncarz commented on how to toe the line of telling a company to stay while also criticizing that same company while doing it.

"It's not easy to do that," he said. "There are others that would like me to be much more harsh, but it's not easy to do it. So, you basically try to find the appropriate tone, and that is that we're willing to work with you, and if we're willing to work, you've got to have somebody on the other side who's willing to do it as well."

While Suresh says it's certainly better to find a diplomatic solution, which according to Poloncarz has already been tried and is not going well, he said that sometimes it simply makes more financial sense for companies to take business elsewhere.

"I'm quit sure that senior management of New Era has some very compelling reasons to shift production overseas, especially from the cost-structure point of view," said Suresh.

However, Poloncarz says that they're not going away quietly, and the negotiating table is still open.

"I've learned a long time ago that you can't save every job," said Poloncarz. "But if we can try our best to save as many of them as possible, and they are saved in the long-run, then it's been a small victory for this community, and if not, well we've done our darnedest to make it happen."

You can hear more from Suresh, including a deeper look at the current trade war with China, below:

global goals

Sustainable Development Goals:

8. Decent work & economic growth: Promoting equitable and sustainable economic growth that offers dynamic and valuable jobs

10. Reduced inequalities: Reducing inequalities found within the community