Updated 10/19/2012 04:34 PM
Hickey Freeman's Parent Company Files for Chapter 11 Bankruptcy Protection
The company that owns Rochester mens clothing maker Hickey Freeman has filed for bankruptcy protection. The head of the HMX Group told YNN that he's still committed to keeping the plant, and hundreds of jobs, here in Rochester.
To view our videos, you need to
install Adobe Flash 9 or above. Install now.
Then come back here and refresh the page.
On the Corner of Clinton and Avenue D, it's an institution.
"It's been here over 100 years," said Gary Bonadonna, Workers United International.
Hickey Freeman. Maker of men's suits. Employer of hundreds.
"It is a large employer. It's a good employer."
Four hundred and fifty people work here. But Hickey Freeman is in trouble, again. Owner HMX Group Friday filed for bankruptcy protection.
"Well, I think this company had good intentions," Bonadonna said.
Many of the workers are represented by Workers United. Union bosses have several concerns.
"Retaining the jobs, keeping the factory open. They're good paying manufacturing jobs. We want to keep those here."
HMX also filed a WARN notice with the State Labor Department, which, by definition, means the Rochester plant could close.
But HMX CEO Doug Williams said, in a phone interview, that's not part of the plan.
"We believe that our manufacturing both in Rochester and Chicago gives our business a competitive advantage, and what we've seen in the growth of our business over the last two years proves that to be true."
Still, union leaders worry a sale through bankruptcy could attract companies interested in nothing more than the Hickey Freeman name.
"We are concerned. There are some buyers out there that just want to buy the brands, manufacture offshore, close the factories," Bonadonna said.
The Chapter 11 filing was done Friday morning in U.S. Bankruptcy Court in Manhattan. In it, HMX lists assets of less than $50,000 versus debt of more than $50 million."
Williams says filing for bankruptcy protection will keep Hickey Freeman in business. A deal was struck this week with Authentic Brands, though he confirms that deal with be tested in bankruptcy proceedings.
Still, Williams says HMX wants to keep the Rochester factory open.
"We believe in our employees. They're a critical part of our success and they're wonderful partners in the business and we take our responsibility to them and their families very seriously," Williams said.
Federal lawmakers have long fought the keep Hickey Freeman from going under; most recently, an August rally involving Congresswoman Louise Slaughter. The union says it will fight any potential sale to a company that would want to shut down the troubled factory.
"Hopefully this time when it's sold we'll get a buyer that has deep pockets that can keep the factories open and make it successful," Bonadonna said.
In response to the Bankruptcy filing, Senator Charles Schumer is scheduled to
attend a rally and press conference Monday at the Rochester Hickey Freeman plant.