The Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union yesterday failed to block the re-election of James D. Finley, chairman of the executive committee of J.P. Stevens & Co., to the board of directors of the Sperry Corp.

Finley, who had served on the Sperry board since 1970, won about 94 percent of the shares voted at yesterday's shareholders' meeting in New York City to keep his position.

ACTWU had targeted Finley's seat as part of its "corporate campaign [to] isolate Stevens from the mainstream of the business community" -- a major tactic in the union's nearly 20-year battle to organize and win contracts with Stevens, one of the nation's largest textile manufacturers.

The union said that some 400 of its supporters -- unionized Sperry workers, outside labor officials and others holding Sperry shares -- attended the meeting and offered numerous arguments in an attempt to stop Finley's re-election. But Sperry spokesman Richard Torrenzano said ACTWU was exaggerating the number of its backers at the meeting.

"The shareholders voted for the board of directors of their choice," said Torrenzano, who added that his company has "maintained a position that the affairs of Stevens are not the affairs of Sperry."