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Victory for Mott's Workers

Jeremy Sprinkle
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3-month strike ends with new contract

Good news from the AFL-CIO Blog:

More than three months after walking out, the 300-plus workers at Mott’s upstate New York applesauce plant declared victory after ratifying a new contract yesterday. The workers will return to work on Monday, Sept. 20, on what would have been the 121st day of the strike.

The members of Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union/UFCW (RWDSU/UFCW) Local 220 walked out on May 23 after earlier rejecting a concessions-laden contract from Mott’s, a subsidiary of the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group food and drink conglomerate, which made a $550 million profit last year.

The new contract restores wage levels and continues the defined-benefit pension plan. The workers’ contract at the Williamson, N.Y., plant expired April 16 and even as Dr. Pepper Snapple Group CEO Larry Young pocketed $6.5 million last year, the company demanded a $1.50 per hour wage cut for all workers, a pension freeze for current employees and the elimination of a pension for future employees, decreased employer contributions to the company’s 401(k) retirement plan and increased employee contributions toward health care premiums and co-pays.

The union credits strong solidarity support from other unions and AFL-CIO councils for helping workers at the plant stick together to outlast management during the strike.

This episode at Mott's is a reminder that justice for workers has never come in handouts from employers but only with struggle.