Skip to comments.Workers shudder over Stella D'oro cookie factory shuttering in the Bronx
Posted on 09/11/2009 4:04:51 PM PDT by Leisler
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.
"My family is going to suffer," said Evelyn Rivera, a packer at the plant for the past two years. "This is so sad. The company has been here for more than 70 years."
Machine operator Juan Torres, 51, said he doesn't know if he'll have the money for his 17-year-old son, Francis, to start college next year.
"There is nothing to pay for anything," Torres said.
Connecticut-based private equity firm Brynwood Partners announced Wednesday it is selling the popular Italian cookie and breadstick baker to snackfood maker Lance Inc.
The Kingsbridge plant will close at the end of the month.
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."
George Kahssay, 51, a plant worker for 22 years, has two children in college.
"They're going to have to skip a few semesters," he said. "I've already sold my car and cleaned out my life savings during the strike. There is nothing left for them or myself and my wife. Obviously, they'll have to get a loan."
He and his wife will also go without health insurance.
"But we will just pray to God that we do not get sick."
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."
Sorta reminds me of when Eastern airlines was killed off by a union strike.
Hey, when you were on strike (with unemployment growing), didn’t you go get other job training or some part time work?
I can’t believe it. When I was a kid and used to go up from Manhattan to visit friends in the Bronx, the glorious smell of the Stella D’Oro factory (which was literally under the elevated) always let me know I was near my stop.
Ah, you hear about the strike as a non-sequitir in the last part of the article.
Too bad the article wasn’t titled:
“Another Union Success Story - Stella Shuts Ends 70 Years in the Bronx after Crippling Strike.”
11 Month Strike during economic chaos ends in July, Company decides plant is now unprofitable, and closes it in September.
Liberals, unionists, and reporters cannot see the link.
I sometimes believe that we DESERVE what is happening to us.
Another business killed by the Union,with help from NRLB.
They were on strike for almost a year. Idiots
I still do...you can smell the cookies as you drive past the building on the Major Deegan Hwy...
Moving to Ohio? That’s the most unbelievable part of the story.
So these people were on strike for 1 month short of a year? No wonder the new owner decided to bag it.
From the “Socialist Internationalist” Website
The struggle of the 136 bakery workers at the Stella dOro cookie factory in the Bronx, on strike since last August 15, has reverberated through New York City labor. The companys use of low-paid ($10 an hour) scab labor to run the struck factory is a threat to unions throughout the city. But paper resolutions expressing fine sentiments of labor solidarity are not enough. The fact is, NYC labor officialdom has not actually done anything to use its power to win the strike. If it had, the strike would have ended in a victory months ago. We need to massively mobilize NYC labor to beat the union-busters at Stella DOro!
On May 30, hundreds of unionists and strike supporters are expected to rally and march to the bakery at 237th Street in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx. Among those unions who have participated in earlier rallies are the UFT (teachers), PSC (faculty at the City University), 1199 (health care workers), SEIU (service workers), UFCW (grocery store workers), AFSCME (government workers), RWDSU (retail workers) and others. These demonstrations of labor solidarity are important, as are the checks that several unions have presented to the strikers. But far more is needed to actually win this crucial strike.
The courageous members of Local 50 of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) Union walked out when the bakerys new owners demanded drastic pay cuts (slashing $1 an hour each year over five years), an end to pensions, cuts to health care, the elimination of sick days and cuts to vacation time. For many of the production line workers, a majority of them women, that would have driven their income down from $37,000 to $27,000 a year. A single mother could not survive on those wages. In the face of heavy odds, the workers have stayed strong. Not one striker has crossed the picket line.
BOTTOM LINE-These people COULD have saved their jobs with a $1 per hour pay cut, now they are ON THE STREETS after an 11 month strike, instead.
There just isn’t any cure for stupid.
They need to thank their new President for their loss of income and any kind of decent life they had.
I would imagine that New York City and State taxes on a business like Stella D'oro are pretty grim too.
Too bad....I remember the drive past the factory as a kid and the scent of anisette cookies....
Look for the Union Label .....
Hurl alert. I hate this kind of “reporting”. Why not just call it what it is, propaganda?
Workers, who already went through a long, bitter strike that ended in July.......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.
so was it worth it?
Hey,labor costs are sure to be lower...as will taxes.And the state/city government thugs are likely to be less menacing...as will the union boss thugs.
The strike went from August 08 to July 09? Who made all the bills for 11 months?
Dadgum unions are the reason these people are screwed. Go to the union office for help.
Machine operator Juan Torres, 51, said he doesn’t know if he’ll have the money for his 17-year-old son, Francis, to start college next year.
Is it just me? If not being able to pay your kids way through college defines “poor” then no wonder other countries look at us like a bunch of spoiled rich kids. What ever happened to kids flipping burgers to pay their way through school, or here’s a thought, just go get a job and work up the ladder the hard way.
Bet the house on that one.
Depends. If they're smart they'll go to SW Ohio, near Cincinnati. Columbus would be a second choice. But any other metro area, especially Cleveland/Youngstown/Akron/Canton would be a waste of time.
subsidiary of the Gambino Family
A local tannery which made excellent premium auto leather and whose workers were “family” unionized and had strikes going on almost constantly.
“MORE MONEY!! MORE BENEFITS!! MORE VACATION TIME!”
The owner finally had enough, basically said “Screw you” and moved his operation to Mexico.
To this day, the sobbing [former] workers can’t connect the dots.
Looks like the cookie has crumbled for the union. Oh well.
It demanded significant reductions in wages and benefits in order to move the factory to profitability.
“”My family is going to suffer,” said Evelyn Rivera, a packer at the plant for the past two years. “This is so sad. The company has been here for more than 70 years.” “
Yeah, Georgia had a cotton business for 250 years and that’s gone too lady. There is 14% unemployment in a three county area for a region that held factories for two CENTURIES.
"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."
Talk about your bizarre coincidences, who would have ever imagined such unrelated events happening to the same company?
Y’all have the antiquated notion that businesses exist to turn a profit? How quaint. This is the age of The One. The reason for a business’s existence is to pay taxes and lavish pay and benefits on workers past the point of crippling the company so they can in turn pay more taxes and make sure their union bosses get a nice little tidbit too, so they can in turn pay off some democrat somewhere.
This is what my husband is saying to me at this moment. Most of Ohio is big Union country.
Oh gee, I wonder why the union charges so much for health insurance....why don’t they give it to the workers for free?
Thats what they expect the employers to do....
That’s the best news I’ve heard all day! ;-)
The real story here is that Gov Patterson and the NY lawmakers have taxed the company out of the state.
The media responsible for the article wishes us to believe this is the very reason we need Obama to change Health Care in the US.
The Union won! Time for a party at the Union hall.
Well anything is possible! The rule of law is gone. Obama and his Union communist thugs have taken over.
That's what you get for joining a union. No sympathy you stupid creep. The greedy union scum killed these jobs.
From what I read in previous articles about this strike and closing. The avg. wage was $22.00 an hour, 9 weeks vacation and personal days plus benefits.
The company was losing money and asked for a 20 % cut in pay and reduced vacation time after the Union contract ran out (that fact is almost never reported)
The factory was purchased from Kraft Foods in 2006 by a takeover firm, Brynwood Partners, and Brynwood lost no time in demanding huge pay cuts and other concessions once the Union's contract expired July 31. Brynwood wants the 136 Bronx mothers, fathers, and grandmothers who work at Stella Doro to accept reduced wages and pay out an additional $1.32 per hour for health insurance. Brynwood's proposal cuts vacation benefits, eliminates sick time, and removes four holidays.
First of all, the governor can’t read any bill that’s put in front of him.
To prevent an MTA fare hike, there was a backroom deal that socked a .34% payroll tax on all employers within NYC and seven surrounding counties. It doesn’t matter if you don’t use the MTA, you still pay the tax.
Another case of a union trying to bully management into way above market wages, but cutting it own thread instead.
I’m going to buy some Stella D’oro Breakfast Treats tonight (They are great when dunked in coffee or hot chocolate) and maybe some Swiss Fudge cookies.
What did they think was going to happen when they play hardball with the union? You just can’t do that in a tight economy people. Would’ve been better just to keep woriing at the same wage instead of striking and losing everything!
I am aware of that...as is seen on my recent registration renewal “statement”...I’m more than midly pissed.
How’s that hopey changey thing working out for ya?
We are being taxed into oblivion.
It’s a shame. I used to drive past Stella D’Oro’s every morning and open my car window in the middle of winter just to smell those cookies.
Southeast Ohio sure could use the work! Unemployment is 12.9%$ here and gets higher as you go south. Wages in this area for food factories usually are around $7-$8 an hour.