September 17, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Bethlehem, PA – Workers at the Just Born candy company here went on strike Sept. 7, after unanimously rejecting a contract offer that would have eliminated pensions for future employees and put then into a 401(k) style plan.
The company, which manufactures Peeps and Mike and Ike candy, responded by holding a job fair for strikebreakers Sept. 15, after threatening to replace the about 400 strikers permanently. “Workers deserve to be treated fairly with reasonable wage increases and a pension that allows them to retire with dignity,” Hank McKay, president of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 6, said in a statement announcing the strike. “The company has benefited from their skills and dedication through soaring profits.” Local 6 said it had proposed “substantial” savings on health-care benefits, but management instead offered “substandard” pay increases and demanded that workers pay more for health care. Just Born’s two CEOs say it can no longer afford to pay for pensions, and the two-tier system “provides a respectful path that honors our current associates’ existing benefits, and provides a sustainable retirement benefit for our future hires.” Picketing strikers responded with a chant of “No pensions, no Peeps!” Read more