The parable of the Stella D'oro union workers

Stella D’oro is a brand of cookies, breadsticks, biscotti, and S-shaped breakfast treats. I used to love them, before I woke up to the awful truth of transfat. 🙁
Founded in 1932 by Italian immigrant Joseph Kresivich, the company was sold to Nabisco in 1992; became part of Kraft Foods in 2000; sold again to Brynwood Partners in 2006; and eventually to Lance Inc. in 2009.
Since its beginning, Stella D’oro’s bakery or manufacturing facility had been located on West 237th Street at the north end of Kingsbridge in the Bronx, New York City. The workers belonged to the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers’ International Union, Local 50.
On August 14, 2008, two weeks after their contract expired, 138 Stella D’oro workers went on strike citing proposed pay and benefit cuts, and later picketed the company’s attempt to bring in replacement workers.

3 guesses as to what happened to these striking Stella D’oro union workers!

This is what happened, as recounted by Alicia Colon for the Irish Examiner, May 8, 2012:

One would think that in this horrible economy, those employed with a halfway decent job would hold on to it and yet union members are foolishly electing to strike thinking that union leadership have their best interest at heart.

Last week, Caterpillar workers went out on strike for better wages and health care after negotiations fell apart. I would suggest that they do their homework and look up the case of the Stella D’Oro factory workers in the Bronx and wake up to reality.

I watched an HBO documentary, “No Contract, No Cookies,” which chronicled the 11-month old strike of workers protesting their unfair wages. The company owners maintained that the hourly wages of $18 to $22 an hour and nine weeks of paid leave made the factory unprofitable and demanded significant reductions in wages and benefits.

That’s when the union bosses stepped in and organized a hard fought strike with picket lines throughout the fall, winter and spring as the recession deepened.

The union sued the company and won their case in court, winning the right to return to work. Not one worker broke ranks and the documentary showed the glee on their faces as they learned the result of their suit. Happy ending? Not quite.

Soon after they returned, the owners closed the factory.

In an interview with the Huffington Post’s Jonah Green, director Jon Alpert said, “The factory was quintessentially American with the immigrant composition of the workforce and the fact that this type of job opportunity was a beacon for them. And it was not only a beacon but a safe harbor that they landed in when they got to America.”

According to the narrative of the film, many of the workers were long term, some having worked there over 30 years and the program was generally sympathetic to their plight.

Many were immigrants from third world countries but I had a hard time feeling their pain and I think they all deserved a good shaking for being so stupid for genuflecting to the union leadership instead of facing reality. It was quite clear from the movie that they had no idea what capitalism means.

At some of their rallies they were spouting clearly Marxist sentiments claiming that the company was theirs because they had worked there for years. The routine premise of the picketers was,” Workers Unite!” and to me that conjured up images of the Russian revolution of the proletariats.

Americans need to be reschooled or in the case of young public school students schooled for the first time on what a business is. It is not a charity but is generally established primarily to make a profit. If it is successful it will be able to hire and pay good wages to hard workers. If it isn’t it will either have to cut expenses or shut down. Workers have to also consider the reality of their companies’ viability in the current market. […]

The American dream is alive and well for those who understand how it works and are willing to work hard for it.

It is a real folly to cede control over one’s life to union bosses who spout leftwing mantras and promote class envy. It is highly doubtful that the Bronx union bosses lost their jobs along with those unfortunate Stella D’Oro workers. But not all unions are evil in fact, the Hotel, Motel Trades Council in New York provides excellent healthcare for their members and pensioners in various union health clinics around the city.

Many others, however, are an anachronism that exploit their membership and most are in league with one political party funding election campaigns with union dues but without worker input.

The S.E.I.U. (Service Employees International Union) is using thuggery to enforce its agenda and if we ever get a Justice Department that will actually enforce our laws, its days and its members will be numbered.

[…] In this stagnant economy union workers are no longer indispensable. Unemployed workers are legion and will swoop in to take over the jobs from those unwise enough to strike. ‘Unfortunately, unions still have strong influence over workers who haven’t learned the lessons of past strikers. […]

Union workers need to wake up and fast and take a good look at those disguised socialists endangering their livelihoods and killing the American Dream.

In September 2009, Brynwood announced the sale of Stella D’Oro to Lance, a large manufacturer of snack foods, which promptly relocated Stella D’Oro’s production to a non-union facility in Ashland, Ohio.
And that, boys and girls, is how the cookie crumbled!

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8 years ago

Thank you, Dr. Eowyn, for this wonderful post! People have lost their gratitude for what they have, which in this case, is a very good paying job with benefits! These people allowed greed to take hold of them.

lowtechgrannie lowtechgrannie
lowtechgrannie lowtechgrannie
8 years ago

Great story! There’s another golden nugget of a story floating around involving SEIU and Planned Parenthood’s failure to negotiate. I’ll try to find it and post here.

8 years ago

There’s a reason Boeing built a new production facility in SC.
The union thugs in the Northwest force a strike every couple years, halting plane production. And in the end the employees never come out that much farther ahead. Pathetic.

8 years ago

Here is just one more thought, All the government employees are in unions and WE the citizen pay their union dues so they can screw the citizen out of more money and not do their job, and they (the government workers) think it can’t happen to them, the Socialist bunch of scum will find out when the country goes broke, and it was the Senate and Congress gave them the right to steal from us! Yet the Senate and Congress is supposed to work for us (the citizen), NOW THAT’S FUNNY! They ALL need kicked out on their asses! A… Read more »

8 years ago

Oh Yea, every politican that has been in office over ten years needs to be put in prison for misuse and misapproation of funds, take over their bank accounts (offshore accounts and all), retirements, health care, ALL their homes and properties, and let’s see just how their families get along, John Kerry and Nancy Pelosi would put a big dent in the DEBT! Let the BASTARDS know that their BULLSHIT won’t fly anymore! Besides they stole all their wealth from the citizens of America anyway! Semper Fi.

adam andino
adam andino
8 years ago

I am a well educated marine diesel mechanic who has worked for several family owned marinas. I know first hand what its like to have new management (spoiled family members) come in & put profit first & quality workmanship last. How many companies that employ blue collar workers today are run by someone with a degree, that sits behind a computer all day & has never got there hands dirty before. 10 years ago, I was the first guy to say unions are no longer needed, look what they did 2 Detroit car makers, etc. Boy was I wrong, this… Read more »

7 years ago

One correction to this post: The Stella D’oro workers ultimately did not win their case in court. The Second Circuit Court of Appeals reversed the National Labor Relations Board’s decision in the case, finding that Stella D’oro did not violate the law. The Court’s decision may be found here: