Stella D’Oro workers take struggle to Wall Street
Published Sep 30, 2009 9:33 PM
Workers at Stella D’Oro Biscuit Co. are still fighting to keep their
plant and jobs in the Bronx, even after a hard-fought, 11-month strike ended in
victory and a favorable National Labor Relations Board ruling.
Brynwood Partners, a private equity vulture that bought the plant in 2006, has
now sold it to Lance, Inc., which plans to move the company to anti-union
Workers protest outside offices of
WW photo: Mike Eilenfeldt
The workers say this is criminal because it involves moving out machinery that
was paid for by $9 million in New York City tax abatements.
On Sept. 25 a large contingent of fired-up Stella D’Oro workers joined
hundreds of chanting supporters in front of Goldman Sachs, a Wall Street global
giant in the commercial and investment sector that received billions in
bailouts and is the underwriter in the sale of Stella D’Oro.
Its executives are well rewarded for sabotaging the rights of workers, their
unions and communities. Lloyd Blankfein, Goldman Sachs CEO, is one of Wall
Street’s highest-paid executives. Weil, Gotshal and Manges LLP, an
international law firm with expertise in acquisition finance deals, which has
revenues of $1.7 billion, has been retained by Brynwood Partners and Goldman
Sachs to close the deal. Stella D’Oro workers are facing cold-hearted
class enemies—the bailout robber barons.
Mike Filippou, executive committee member of Bakery Workers union Local 50 and
the main spokesperson for the workers during their long, hard struggle, spoke
to the rally: “We’re here at Goldman Sachs for a reason. Goldman
Sachs gets so much money from our taxes and from the stimulus package. And what
do they do? They’re moving the jobs out of the Bronx and out from New
York to make a profit. We’re here to make everybody know what Goldman
Sachs does to working people like us to make a profit. We’re here to tell
them that we’re not going to allow them to do that.”
After the protest, Stella D’Oro workers led a militant march up Broadway
to City Hall, chanting, “We are Stella” and “Keep Stella in
the Bronx! Fight! Fight! Fight!”
They carried two huge red banners created in Guatemala in tribute to the heroic
11-month strike, which began in August 2008 and ended in July of this year.
That’s when the NLRB ruled that Brynwood Partners had committed unfair
labor practices, used scabs and refused to bargain with the union. During the
strike, not one worker crossed the picket line.
Marchers targeted multi-billionaire Mayor Michael Bloomberg for his refusal to
enforce tax abatement laws that Brynwood and its cohorts on Wall Street have
The phenomenal unity of the Stella D’Oro family of immigrant workers from
many nations, with the majority women, gradually won support from the
community. Workers in solidarity with the community pushed the City Council,
the AFL-CIO Central Labor Council, local elected officials and even sections of
the corporate media to support their cause.
Unfortunately, Richard Trumka, newly elected president of the AFL-CIO, passed
up an opportunity to deliver a message of support when he recently visited Wall
Street and the Kingsbridge Armory, which is only a few blocks from Stella
D’Oro in the Bronx.
George Kahsaay, a strike captain who never missed a day on the picket line,
summed it all up: “It’s not over till it’s over. We’re
going to fight all the way. Doesn’t matter how big they are. We’re
going to fight them and we’re going to win this war.”
Eilenfeldt is a delegate to the New York City Central Labor Council and a
member of the Bail Out the People Movement.
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