SCHUMER STATEMENT ON ROCHESTER’S ICONIC HICKEY FREEMAN EXPANDING AND ADDING NEW JOBS AT CENTURY-YEAR-OLD FACTORY
Rochester, N.Y. – U.S. Senator Charles E. Schumer today released the following statement to celebrate Rochester’s iconic, 120-year-old Hickey Freeman adding up to 80 new jobs at its famed Rochester factory:
“Hickey Freeman is a New York icon, and today I couldn’t be more excited to stand alongside my fellow elected officials from New York State to announce that thanks to our work at every level of government, Rochester’s 120-year-old storied institution is set up for an even longer and brighter future with new production, new products, and most importantly, up to 80 new jobs!
“At the federal level, I fought tooth and nail to get the Wool Trust Fund extended for another 5 years and signed into law with the 2018 Farm Bill, fending off threats to strip Hickey Freeman of as much as $3 million per year. Together these efforts, along with the quick response of the New York State government and tireless work from Governor Cuomo and NYS ESD President & CEO Howard Zemsky, we’ve buttoned-up new jobs at Hickey Freeman.
“Year after year I’ve fully committed myself to ensuring that Hickey Freeman can maintain their robust presence in Rochester – because these middle-class, American manufacturing jobs come few and far between nowadays. But, when allowed to compete on a level playing field, top-notch New York State businesses like Hickey Freeman will always succeed. I could not be more proud of the work we’ve all done to continue helping this formidable company grow,” said Senator Schumer.
Schumer has long fought to keep Hickey Freeman in business in Rochester. In 2009, when Hickey Freeman’s parent company at the time, Hartmarx, declared bankruptcy, threatening a liquidation and closure of the Rochester factory, Schumer led the charge to save this factory. Schumer successfully urged Hartmarx’s creditor, Wells Fargo, to continue providing Hartmarx with the credit they needed to continue manufacturing jobs in Rochester, saving hundreds of jobs. Ultimately, in 2012 Schumer helped save Hickey Freeman from bankruptcy, by shepherding a deal that allowed Grano Retail’s Luxury Men’s Apparel Group (LMAG) to take over the Hickey Freeman Rochester factory in 2013. In the time since, Schumer support helped LMAG and Hickey Freeman secure new contracts to manufacture suits for Dillard’s Department Store as well as for Ralph Lauren’s Blue Label line of Polo suits and sports jackets, and even for Hickey Freeman to help produce clothing for the 2016 Team USA Olympic Team.
In December 2018 Schumer secured the provision in the Federal Farm Bill that fully funded the federal Wool Trust Fund program through 2023 which saves Hickey Freeman as much as $3 million a year in relief from unfair tariffs. The Wool Trust Fund was set to expire in 2019, and while the House of Representatives’ version of the Farm Bill included a provision to extend the trust fund until 2023 it also called for the Fund to be cut by 50% which would have jeopardized the viability of Rochester’s Hickey Freeman factory. Fortunately, Schumer secured a provision in the Senate’s version of the Farm Bill and in the final bill that was signed into law in December 2018 that not only extended the Trust Fund program until 2023, but also fully funded it at 100%. The Wool Trust Fund compensates the domestic suit industry for the competitive disadvantage that results from an unfair “tariff inversion” where the duty on the imported finished product is lower than the duty on the inputs used to make the product here at home. The program is essential to put Hickey Freeman back on a level playing field with overseas suit competitors who import suits into the U.S. without ever having to pay the same wool duties as U.S. suit producers. Without the Wool Trust Fund, Hickey Freeman’s overseas competitors would have an unfair leg-up while putting our own U.S. manufacturers like Hickey Freeman in the lurch for making suits in the USA. In 2014, Schumer was instrumental to first secure legislation in that year’s federal Farm Bill to extend the Wool Trust Fund’s authorization for five years through 2019 and to secondly restore adequate trust fund payment levels to address several years when the Trust was underfunded.
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