About 130 bakery workers who have been on strike since August are going back to making Stella D’oro cookies in the Bronx on Tuesday — but the return may be bittersweet.
Along with invitations to resume their old jobs, the workers also received notice that the plant’s owner planned to shut it down permanently in October. The owner, Brynwood Partners, a private investment firm in Greenwich, Conn., said that it could not afford to continue operating the bakery without significant concessions from its unionized work force.
The workers refused to accept the pay cuts and changes in benefits that the owners had demanded and began picketing 11 months ago. But last week, a federal administrative law judge ruled that Stella D’oro, which Brynwood bought from Kraft Foods in 2006, had to reinstate the striking workers and pay the wages they had lost since May 6.
Company officials said that they believed the judge’s decision was flawed and that they planned to appeal it. But in the meantime, they dismissed the replacement workers who had operated the bakery during the strike and prepared for the return of the original workers, who are members of Local 50 of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers.
In a statement released on Monday afternoon, Stella D’oro said the bakery was not profitable and would not be without significant changes to its existing wage scale, which paid $18 to $22 an hour to the most skilled workers.
“By refusing to compromise and insisting on maintaining a high labor cost structure, the union leadership has ensured that the jobs that they were trying to protect would eventually disappear from the Bronx forever,” the statement said.
The company said it planned to continue producing cookies, breakfast treats and breadsticks, but it did not indicate where. Outside the dormant bakery on Monday afternoon, Stella D’oro’s chief operating officer, Daniel J. Myers, said, “It’s certainly sad all around for everyone involved.”
(Source: NY Times)