Rochester, N.Y. – Workers at Hickey Freeman rallied on Monday to save their jobs. Parent company HMX Group filed a notice with the state the plant could close, costing about 450 jobs.
HMX, which owns other luxury suit lines, filed for bankruptcy last week and indicated it is selling its assets.
“The worst case scenario would be that it closed or they move the business out to another country,” said 19-year employe Debbie Glunski.
There is reason to hope Hickey Freeman will continue operating in Rochester. In court papers, HMX said it has a stalking horse purchase agreement with Authentic Brands, which “represents the best opportunity for the Debtors to preserve the Debtors’ going concern operations, preserve over 1000 jobs, and maximize value by serving as a basis for conducting the Auction to seek higher or otherwise better offers.”
But Senator Chuck Schumer, who led the rally, said another bidder, a “bad buyer,” could step in. “We are telling the liquidators, ‘If you try to buy the company and make the goods overseas, you will not sell a single suit in America.’”
Schumer says he’s been in talks with two “good buyers.” Bids are due on November 28.
Hickey Freeman workers have been through this before. The previous owner filed for bankruptcy in 2009. HMX bought the group, but said the recession hurt efforts to revitalize the companies. The lender pulled the plug, forcing the bankruptcy filing.
Hickey Freeman was founded in 1899 and moved to its Clinton Ave. factory in 1912. It has employed generations of immigrants. Both presidential candidates like wearing Hickey Freeman suits. Mitt Romney had one on during the second presidential debate. President Obama wore a suit by another HMX line.