Stella D’oro is a brand of cookies, breadsticks, biscotti, and S-shaped breakfast treats. I used to love them, before I woke up to the awful truth of transfat.
Founded in 1932 by Italian immigrant Joseph Kresivich, the company was sold to Nabisco in 1992; became part of Kraft Foods in 2000; sold again to Brynwood Partners in 2006; and eventually to Lance Inc. in 2009.
Since its beginning, Stella D’oro’s bakery or manufacturing facility had been located on West 237th Street at the north end of Kingsbridge in the Bronx, New York City. The workers belonged to the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers’ International Union, Local 50.
On August 14, 2008, two weeks after their contract expired, 138 Stella D’oro workers went on strike citing proposed pay and benefit cuts, and later picketed the company’s attempt to bring in replacement workers.
This is what happened, as recounted by Alicia Colon for the Irish Examiner, May 8, 2012:
One would think that in this horrible economy, those employed with a halfway decent job would hold on to it and yet union members are foolishly electing to strike thinking that union leadership have their best interest at heart.
Last week, Caterpillar workers went out on strike for better wages and health care after negotiations fell apart. I would suggest that they do their homework and look up the case of the Stella D’Oro factory workers in the Bronx and wake up to reality.
I watched an HBO documentary, “No Contract, No Cookies,” which chronicled the 11-month old strike of workers protesting their unfair wages. The company owners maintained that the hourly wages of $18 to $22 an hour and nine weeks of paid leave made the factory unprofitable and demanded significant reductions in wages and benefits.
That’s when the union bosses stepped in and organized a hard fought strike with picket lines throughout the fall, winter and spring as the recession deepened.
The union sued the company and won their case in court, winning the right to return to work. Not one worker broke ranks and the documentary showed the glee on their faces as they learned the result of their suit. Happy ending? Not quite.
Soon after they returned, the owners closed the factory.
In an interview with the Huffington Post’s Jonah Green, director Jon Alpert said, “The factory was quintessentially American with the immigrant composition of the workforce and the fact that this type of job opportunity was a beacon for them. And it was not only a beacon but a safe harbor that they landed in when they got to America.”
According to the narrative of the film, many of the workers were long term, some having worked there over 30 years and the program was generally sympathetic to their plight.
Many were immigrants from third world countries but I had a hard time feeling their pain and I think they all deserved a good shaking for being so stupid for genuflecting to the union leadership instead of facing reality. It was quite clear from the movie that they had no idea what capitalism means.
At some of their rallies they were spouting clearly Marxist sentiments claiming that the company was theirs because they had worked there for years. The routine premise of the picketers was,” Workers Unite!” and to me that conjured up images of the Russian revolution of the proletariats.
Americans need to be reschooled or in the case of young public school students schooled for the first time on what a business is. It is not a charity but is generally established primarily to make a profit. If it is successful it will be able to hire and pay good wages to hard workers. If it isn’t it will either have to cut expenses or shut down. Workers have to also consider the reality of their companies’ viability in the current market. [...]
The American dream is alive and well for those who understand how it works and are willing to work hard for it.
It is a real folly to cede control over one’s life to union bosses who spout leftwing mantras and promote class envy. It is highly doubtful that the Bronx union bosses lost their jobs along with those unfortunate Stella D’Oro workers. But not all unions are evil in fact, the Hotel, Motel Trades Council in New York provides excellent healthcare for their members and pensioners in various union health clinics around the city.
Many others, however, are an anachronism that exploit their membership and most are in league with one political party funding election campaigns with union dues but without worker input.
The S.E.I.U. (Service Employees International Union) is using thuggery to enforce its agenda and if we ever get a Justice Department that will actually enforce our laws, its days and its members will be numbered.
[...] In this stagnant economy union workers are no longer indispensable. Unemployed workers are legion and will swoop in to take over the jobs from those unwise enough to strike. ‘Unfortunately, unions still have strong influence over workers who haven’t learned the lessons of past strikers. [...]
Union workers need to wake up and fast and take a good look at those disguised socialists endangering their livelihoods and killing the American Dream.
In September 2009, Brynwood announced the sale of Stella D’Oro to Lance, a large manufacturer of snack foods, which promptly relocated Stella D’Oro’s production to a non-union facility in Ashland, Ohio.
And that, boys and girls, is how the cookie crumbled!