On April 1, hundreds of millions of marshmallow chicks and rabbits called Peeps will encounter Easter children in American children.
They are a pastel symbol of Easter joy, but behind the waxy sweets, a company at war with its union workforce is facing rising pension costs – an escalating legal whirl that could soon turn the 10 million Americans' pension plans upside down.
The fight had a strike, a bankruptcy associated with Twinkies, irreparably broken friendships, obscene T-shirts and a caged Peepsmobile. Now all sides are waiting for a verdict from the Federal Appeals Tribunal.
95-year-old Peeps, Just Born Quality Confections, wants to prevent new workers from subscribing to the multiple employer pensions they have offered to workers for decades. Most other similar-pressurized companies have had their pensions in recent years leave, but Just Born wants to exclude new employees from the plan without having to pay a federally imposed fee of 60 million dollars. This must be done to stay competitive.
The fee is designed to ensure that future pension benefits are covered, and if Just Born escapes, union representatives fear that the unprecedented decision would cause thousands of other companies to do the same. This chain reaction could divert workers and money at a time when new employees are seen as crucial to ensuring sufficient funding for the wave of retired baby boomers ̵
It's a fight that has divided this city coring company making a 28-calorie yellow spongy baby chicken against the union workers it deals with. It has shattered the workforce of mechanics and confectionery makers making 2 billion peeps each year.
The company has suggested that if these changes are not made, his future in Bethlehem could be in doubt.
"To stay sustainable We need to further reduce or reduce our costs to invest in our infrastructure, our employees and our brands," said Matt Pye, vice president of Just Born. "Our goal is to continue to produce cult brands for the next generations."
For many workers who make peeps, members of the bakery, patisserie, tobacco workers and grain traders union, this line should not be exceeded
"There comes a time when you have to take a position," said Alex Fattore , 55, who has been with Just Born for 37 years, went out during the stunning strike of 2016 that escalated the feud. "You have to take a stand."
The booth came on September 7, 2016. It should be peak peep time as the company accelerates production to prepare for an easterly boom that locks up nearly half of the company's annual turnover.
Five days earlier, workers met in a union building in the nearby community Allentown 272 employees of Just Born and voted against the latest contract proposal of the company, which would have directed all new employees into a 401 (k) austerity plan, which does not provide benefits after retirement
The workers unanimously voted in favor of the strike.
The following Wednesday, Fattore and more than 100 others went out of the sweeping candy factory that also produced the sweets Mike & Ike and Hot Tamales
They marchi They paced up and down the sidewalk shouting, "No justice! No, peeps! "Again and again, the strike went around the clock.
Belt One, the marshmallow-moving sidewalk that produces most of the company's 5.5 million peeps per day, stood still.
Striking workers noticed the peep-mobile A yellow VW Beetle with a gigantic, drawn-out chick had disappeared from the front of the factory to be locked up later in a cage where it could not be damaged.
Many in Bethlehem and the English: German: www.mjfriendship.de/de/index.php?op…27&Itemid=47 Just enowned and the union had coexisted without a strike since the 1970s, and the company 's earnings reportedly increased in an area where steel work has largely disappeared
Peeps are a cult brand for Bethlehem and central to its identity, they do not drop any crystal ball on New Year's Eve, they leave a huge yellow peep fa The union employees work as volunteers in soup kitchens and local churches.
"It's not like we are against them," said Thomas Hyclak, an economics professor at nearby Lehigh University. "It's not that management is trying to take jobs and move to South Carolina. That's a good company. But the workers are also our friends and neighbors. It's hard for the people to take sides. "
The strike lasted several weeks, the production of confectionery plummeted, the workers said the company refused To stir, the same family had owned Just Born for three generations, and they had complained that personnel costs were rising too fast and they had to curb those costs in order to keep the company competitive. "19659002]" Many companies are relocating part or all of them the entirety of their operations outside the US to benefit from lower sugar prices outside the US and lower labor costs, "said Pye in a statement to the Washington Post." Just Born has, so far, was able to manufacture all of its That makes us a competitive disadvantage.
Union workers were skeptical: Candy Industry magazine had increased Just Born's net sales to $ 231 million in 2016, compared to $ 222 million in 2014. (The company did not comment on Candy's estimates
The union tried to keep its ranks away, twenty workers crossed the pickets and went back to work, warning striking friends they would lose their jobs if they did not return immediately a job fair, and more than 150 people showed up, attracted by the attractive pay that people without a college education could earn.
People panicked, union officials said Just Born hired 100 new workers, while more strict workers hired them Jobs clawed back for fear of losing their careers, longtime friends threw verbal, vulgar threats, as they ducked away.
The union's worst nightmare came true – its members splintered.
" If they break the union, do these people realize they can lose everything? Said Gordon Grow, a mechanic who spent 41 years with Just Born, but retired after the strike because he refused to work with humans (19659002) The striking workers, half of whom were over 50, lost Money, knowing that their health benefits would be exhausted in October, the strike had begun with unity, but now they wondered about the final: Jobs in Lehigh Valley paying between $ 15 and $ 25 an hour for people without university degrees, are hard to find.
So the union agreed to end the strike after four weeks. The damage between the company and its employees was done Staff Belt One would not look for each other in the e
It just got left Worse.
Union officials put a list of all the people who crossed the picket line at their notice board with the word "scab" Working life for someone who broke solidarity – written about it. It was demolished less than two hours later.
Fattore wore a T-shirt by Calvin, a comic character urinating on the word "scab." He was reprimanded by the management
The picture of Calvin is still standing on the window of a union member's truck, a daily reminder that the animus of the strike is still weaker – and that the problems that
The pension, which is administered by a group of labor officials and executives from the 200 participating companies, has sued the company, alleging that it has improperly attempted to hire new employees to retire without the Payout fee. The company has sued the union, demanding "monetary damages" and claims the strike is illegal.
Businesses, union leaders and retirees are watching closely because of the multi Employee Pensions to which Peeps Labor Depends is Nearly 1,300 Across the Country.
A total of 10 million current and retired people, according to the Benefit Guaranty Corporation pension, participate in multiple employer pensions that allow employees to: Many of these pensions for multiple employers If the pension is out of money, retirees may receive only a small percentage of the money they have earned through decades
To make matters worse: If one of the companies payi As the multi-employer plan falters, the other companies remain on the hook to pay even more to stabilize the fund.
Just Born's union employees participate in the Bakery and Confectionery Union and Industrial International Pension Fund cash several years ago, even after the financial crisis. At one point it had so much money that it paid retirees 13 monthly checks every year.
The company and the boarding house seemed healthy, but when the catastrophe came, it seemed far beyond their control.
Hostess Brands, manufacturer of Twinkies and Ding Dongs accounted for 24 percent of all contributions to the multi-employer pension. In 2011, the company stopped providing contributions and in 2012 began bankruptcy, which was impacted by weaker demand, fiercer competition and high levels of debt. Federal courts allowed escaping without paying $ 1 billion in obligations to the pension fund.
The Pension Fund immediately became one of the most endangered in the country from one of the healthiest in the country.
The boarding house was now in a category known as the "red zone", which means that if changes are not made, it will probably go bankrupt and beneficiaries could only get pennies on the dollar when they move in Retire. Some other pensions are even in worse shape.