As our country tries to pull itself out of the economic recession, corporations, despite having largely contributed to create the worst economy since the Great Depression, continue to use the same economy as a scapegoat to justify anti-working family behavior. Highly profitable companies are now demanding that workers take concessions at the bargaining table. At a time when the unemployment rate remains hovering near double digits and the economy desperately needs quality jobs, these companies are fueling a race to the bottom by gutting the few remaining family-sustaining jobs. This is an all out attack on working families, our communities and the broader economy.
One blatant example of such corporate greed at play is happening now at the Mott’s processing plant in Williamson, N.Y., where over three hundred of our brothers and sisters from UFCW Local 220* have been forced out on the streets on strike since May 23 over the outrageous concession demands Mott’s made, that would destroy the workers’ livelihoods and jeopardize their prosperous community.
Mott’s, a subsidiary of Plano, Texas-based Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, is the top applesauce and apple juice brand in the United States. Last year, the company made $555 million in profit. While other companies are struggling because of the recession, Mott’s, clearly, is doing very well. Despite their success, largely due to Local 220* members’ productivity and performance, Mott’s wants to eliminate workers’ pensions, force a 20 percent reduction to their 401Ks, slash wages by $1.50 an hour, significantly expand job responsibilities, and make workers pay thousands of dollars more for health insurance.
As stewards, we are the first line of defense of bargaining agreements and it is our responsibility to make sure that the issues that matter most to our fellow union members are addressed and that their livelihoods are protected in our contracts. When there is no financial need for a successful company to insist upon drastic demands at the table, we must stand together and fight such corporate greed until we prevail.
“They say that we are overpaid, and to take money and benefits out of our pockets is the right thing to do, and that’s what they plan to do,” said Mott’s worker and Local 220* member Ira Bristol.
But while Mott’s is attempting to drive down wages for UFCW members, Larry Young the President and CEO of Mott’s’ parent company, made $6.5 million in total compensation in 2009, which represents an increase of 113 percent in just two years: that is corporate greed at its best.
UFCW Local 220* members, many of whom have worked at Mott’s for decades, refuse to be bullied by Mott’s into accepting a contract that would literally destroy the quality of jobs in their community. They are standing up to corporate and are engaged in a fight to level the playing field for working people across the country.
“There is no more just fight in the United States right now than the one against what Dr Pepper Snapple is doing to you right now,” UFCW International President Joe Hansen told the Mott’s workers on the picket line.
Please stand with UFCW Local 220* members and show your support by spreading the word inside your plant and your community.
Support the Williamson workers’ struggle by not buying the following Mott’s products:
Mott’s Apple Sauce, Hawaiian Punch, Margaritaville Margarita Mix, Mr. & Mrs. T Drink Mixes, Welch’s Grape Juice (64 oz.), Rose’s Lime Juice, Snapple cans, Mott’s Fruitsations, Mott’s Garden Cocktail, ReaLime Juice, ReaLemon Juice, Holland House Cooking Wines, and Clamato.
Visit www.mottsworkers.org or www.NoBadApples.org to learn more about the workers’ plight and on ways you can help. Call Mott’s at 1-800-426-4891 and tell them you support the workers in Williamson. On the Web site you can send a letter to Mott’s management. You can also print out materials for in-store actions at your local supermarket or to educate consumers in your community.