UPDATE 7/16: Union challenges Stella D'oro announced shutdown (AFL-CIO.org)
Surrounded by applauding supporters, the 132 Stella D'oro strikers re-entered their workplace July 7 for the first time in 11 months. Their strike, which began last August, was a magnet for community and labor groups throughout the New York City area.
The workers - bakers, packers, machine operators and mechanics - returned to their jobs days after the federal National Labor Relations Board ordered the company to put the workers back on the job and to pay their back wages. The company was punished by the NLRB for its refusal to turn over financial records, despite its demand that the workers accept a 20 percent pay cut, eliminate sick days and give up many rights on the job. The workers' union, Local 50 of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers, coordinated the legal fight.
See the Democracy Now report, "Stella D’oro workers end 11-month strike after NLRB victory, but owner threatens to close factory"
The Connecticut-based private equity fund - Brynwood Partners - that owns the company has now threatened to close the plant within 90 days, sparking a massive wave of protest against the company's vindictive stand.
See the NY Daily News editorial, "Getting jobbed in the Bronx: Stella D'oro owner plays hardball with workers' lives."
NYSUT leaders and members have been part of the strong support network that sustained the strikers through a harsh winter of picketing, personal sacrifices and an uncertain future. Barbara Bowen, president of the Professional Staff Congress at CUNY, and dozens of PSC members were a constant presence at activities. NYSUT members from Nassau, Suffolk and the Hudson Valley, and Bronx UFT members proved to be active and financially generous supporters of the workers' strike fund.
Bowen and other members were present when workers returned to the plant. Several speakers at the morning rally mentioned the support of NYSUT, UFT and PSC as key allies the past year.
"We have helped these workers win one important battle in this war for their futures," said NYSUT Secretary-Treasurer Lee Cutler. "We will continue by their side to see this through to a good conclusion. New York needs good jobs - we have to fight to save these jobs."