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Stella D’Oro workers say No to taking of machinery

Published Oct 22, 2009 8:30 PM

On Oct. 14 Lance Inc. and their Brynwood Partners were thwarted at 8 a.m. by protesters, including Stella D’Oro workers and their supporters, with unexpected help from nearby elevated subway tracks, when the bosses tried to remove equipment from the Stella D’Oro plant in Bronx, N.Y. Following a hard-won, 11-month-long strike by the unionized workers, Brynwood recently announced that it was closing the Bronx factory and Lance would reopen it in Ashland, Ohio, as a non-union plant.

The removal in broad daylight of taxpayer-financed machinery from the Stella D’Oro factory was blocked when a semitrailer truck accidentally became wedged under subway girders too low for the trailer. The truck blocked street traffic for two hours before being hauled away. The “attempted robbery” was aided and abetted by billionaire Mayor Mike Bloomberg, his Wall Street cohorts and the New York Police Department.

But Brynwood’s greatest crime is the taking of livelihoods. A job is a property right. The machines are instruments in the hands of workers who devoted their lives to learning the secret of making cookies people once loved to eat. Strike captain Oscar Hernandez expressed outrage when he told Workers World, “It took 78 years to build this place, and they are going to destroy it in two weeks.”

Hendrik Hartong of Brynwood Partners has brought bogus harassment charges against strike captain Eddie Marrero, who put his life on the line to save the jobs of fellow workers. Marrero told WW, “We have a lot of class in there, with all the cultures from different continents. We all have a lot of class.” Marrero said that he would never even think about making harassing calls to the home of the man he refers to as the “real criminal.” The charges must be dropped.

There are other outstanding issues. All severance, back pay and benefits owed the workers must be paid by Brynwood according to the union contract with Bakery Workers Local 50. The machines must not be moved. The plant belongs to the Bronx. Every Stella D’Oro worker must be guaranteed a living wage job.

The writer is a delegate to the New York City Central Labor Council for the union at Cooper Union—New York State United Teachers, an affiliate of the American Federation of Teachers—and a member of Bail Out the People Movement.