WILLIAMSON, NY, May 23, 2010 — Over 300 full time manufacturing workers at the Mott’s plant in Williamson, New York went out on strike this morning at 6:00 a.m because of painful wage cuts while the company enjoyed a record year of $555 million in profits. The work stoppage was caused as a direct result of the Mott’s executives (a subsidiary of Dr. Pepper Snapple Group) unfair labor practices as they tried to peel away good jobs and wages, including not bargaining in good faith. The company had publicly declared an impasse and plans to implement their last contract terms, which offered nothing but a reduction in hourly wages and drastic healthcare and pension concessions for the skilled, dedicated workforce at the Williamson manufacturing.
“The workers that were forced to strike today are the same workers who helped make Mott’s be the highly profitable company they are today, and they should not be treated like a bunch of rotten apples by overpaid executives,” said Stuart Appelbaum, national president of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, UFCW. “We understand that no one wins when there is a strike, but is very troubling and disturbing that such a profitable company as Mott’s would carve away a core relationship with their workforce all for corporate greed. Whittling down wage and benefit standards, while exponentially increasing CEO compensation is rotten business, and frankly unAmerican!”
The Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU/UFCW) Local 220, which represents the workers, has been tirelessly negotiating to secure a fair and decent contract for months with Mott’s management. Despite the company’s profitability, Mott’s/Dr. Pepper Snapple have demanded givebacks, including a $1.50 per hour wage cut for all employees, a pension elimination for future employees and a pension freeze for current employees, a 20 percent decrease in employer contributions to the 401K and increased employee contributions toward health care premiums and co-pays.
Mott’s workers overwhelmingly rejected this offer and voted in favor of authorizing their negotiating committee at RWDSU/UFCW Local 220 to call an unfair labor practice strike. The union has continued to demand that the company bargain in good faith in order to quickly reach a fair contract.
By contrast, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group President & CEO Larry D. Young (located in Plano, Texas headquarters) has enjoyed a 113% salary increase over the last 3 years (or 28 percent each year). Mr. Young’s total compensation for 2009 was $6,519,378
Additional, last year, Dr. Pepper Snapple Group made $555 million in profit.
Michael Leberth, president of RWDSU/UFCW Local 220 said “the company has not budged from our reasonable and dignified offer and there will be no late night negotiations. We are tired of being juiced by such a profitable company.”
May is the highest busiest season for Mott’s apple juice and applesauce manufacturing as the demand for these parent and children favorites is highest during the summer season.
The Williamson plant is the only plant that produces Mott’s applesauce, including high margin single serve packs, with 70% of the workforce in skilled labor categories. A labor dispute could damage the value of Mott’s family-friendly brand by associating it with corporate greed and union busting. Additionally, the product may suffer quality issues, as the skilled workforce is not easily replaceable. The Mott’s brand is responsible for more than $550 million worth of Dr. Pepper Snapple’s retail sales each year.
“Why would DPS, with millions in profit, risk interrupting production at a high volume plant?” asked Ira Bristol, who has worked at the plant for almost five years. “Destroying goodwill and creating this antagonistic atmosphere will badly hurt the production system and bottom line, not to mention negatively affecting employee morale and tarnishing the Mott’s good brand around the country.”