On our trip to New York City (NYC) this weekend MB and I stayed with friends who live in the Bronx. On Friday afternoon we spent a couple hours at a labor rally outside the Stella D'Oro bakery. The smell of the Italian cookies filled the air throughout the neighborhoods surrounding the factory.
On July 7, after 325 days on strike, workers at Stella D'Oro went back to work under a contract that the company management had previously ripped up.
Stella D'Oro was founded by an Italian immigrant couple in 1922 and was bought by Nabisco
in 1992. The company was sold to Kraft soon after, and in 2006 was sold again to Brynwood Partners, a private investment fund.
Brynwood demanded a 20% cut in wages and the 136 workers, many who have worked there for up to 30 years, went on strike and lived on the $100 per-week union strike fund for nearly one year. In June the National Labor Relations Board found that Brynwood had illegally refused to disclose its economic situation to the union. The workers were ordered reinstated with two months' back pay. Upon losing the case, the "company" announced they would sell the firm to Lance, Inc. and move the bakery to a non-union Ohio town.
The city of New York have given tax rebates to the company in recent years to buy new ovens and other equipment, likely under the threat of moving if they didn't get the taxpayers subsidies. Now union leaders from many other NYC unions are saying they will use this key point as a way to build support for the Stella D'Oro workers inside city hall.
The remarkable thing was that during the 325 day strike not one of the Stella workers crossed the picket line and went back to work. That kind of real solidarity has shaken the beaten-down union movement in NYC and has made the Stella workers a shining light for the national labor movement.
You can help by contacting the Lance, Inc. at firstname.lastname@example.org
and tell them if they break the Stella D'Oro union by moving the plant to Ohio then you will boycott their products.
This is yet one more sad example of how free-wheeling capitalism puts profit above all else. The workers, who made this a profitable company, are thrown to the street because greedy investors want more, more, more......
I won't be buying anymore Lance peanuts or peanut butter crackers.