Congratulations go to Local 50 of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union workers for their hard won victory against the Brynwood Partners and the Stella D’oro cookie factory.

In July a National Labor Relations Board judge ruled Brynwood had negotiated in bad faith with Local 50.

And now, the rest of the story …

Workers shudder over Stella D’oro cookie factory shuttering in the Bronx

Workers at the Stella D’oro cookie factory in the Bronx were still in shock Thursday as the news sunk in that the business had been sold and was moving to Ohio.

They wondered how they’d pay their rents and mortgages, how they’d find another job in today’s recession and what they’d do without health insurance.

Workers, who already went through a long, bitter strike that ended in July, trudged out at the end of the day’s shift Thursday with hangdog faces and tales of heartbreak.

Rivera said she cannot afford the $1,200 to $1,600 monthly health insurance payments available through her union, Local 50 of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union.

“I guess I will go like everyone else on unemployment. Imagine this: 138 people out on the street.”

After Brynwood bought Stella D’oro from Kraft Foods in 2006, it demanded sharp cuts in wages and benefits. Union workers went on strike in August 2008.

The strike ended in July when a National Labor Relations Board judge ruled Brynwood had negotiated in bad faith with Local 50 and ordered it to pay lost wages and benefits. Brynwood then said it would have to sell the firm.

Alem Fese, 58, a mixer at the plant for 27 years, said she has a $1,500-a-month mortgage and hasn’t written a résumé in nearly three decades.

“Who’s going to hire me?” she asked. “I don’t know what I’m going to do. Really.”

“Who’s going to hire me?”

Who’s going to hire me? is a very good question. Here’s another one. Why didn’t the union ask that question before they went on strike, given the threat of the owner to sell?

Some people, more importantly some union leaders, would rather have no job than a job at reduced pay, until they have no job, no pay, and no benefits. At some point those workers will be saying Cut My Pay, But Please Give Me A Job.

This is a guess on my part, but the pay and benefits those workers get on their next job will probably be far lower than what Brynwood offered. Now those bakers may settling for jobs at Walmart, if they can find a job at all.

Wages and benefits NEED to come down. So they will, one way or another. If you don’t believe me, then ask GM or Local 50.

Union workers in general (and Local 50 workers specifically) need to be wondering if their union exists for the benefit of the workers or the benefit of those collecting union dues.

By the way, if you have not figured this out yet, this process is very deflationary.

Mike “Mish” Shedlock
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