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?