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Union members protest at Vera Bradley Outlet Sale

FORT WAYNE, Ind. (WANE) – Members of UAW Local 2209, which represents workers at the GM assembly plant, turned out Wednesday morning at the Memorial Coliseum on the first day of the Vera Bradley Outlet Sale to protest the recent decision by Vera Bradley to close its manufacturing plant in New Haven which employs 250 people.

The protesters held signs extolling Vera Bradley to keep jobs in the United States.

With the decision to close the New Haven facility, Vera Bradley will manufacture all of its women’s handbags, luggage and accessories overseas.

The company blamed the move on higher production costs in the United States and indicated only five percent of its products are manufactured in the U.S. The plant will close in early May or possibly sooner.

Vera Bradley’s headquarters and a massive warehouse are located near the GM plant, which is one of the reasons why union members decided to stage the protest.

Vera Bradley estimates between 55,000 and 65,000 people attend the outlet sale which runs for five days.

The company says shoppers from all 50 states have registered to attend the sale which was first held in 1983.

Melissa Schenkel, Public Relations Manager for Vera Bradley, said the plant closure announcement didn’t appear to have any effect on attendance for this year’s sale with registration for the event about even with last year’s.

Robert Wallstrom, CEO of Vera Bradley, is expected to be available to the media later on Wednesday to comment on the protest.