City Univ. Staff Backs Bakery Workers
BRONX, NY — Chants of “No Contract, No Cookies!’ and “Stella, Stella, Stella, we are Stella!” rang out from 135 members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTWGM) Local 50. These workers have been on strike since August 13 in reaction to the drastic, concessionary demands of their bosses. Brynwood Partners, the new owners of Stella D’Oro, are demanding the elimination of holidays, vacation and sick pay, requiring large healthcare premiums and calling for wage reductions in each year of the new contract.
Members of the Professional Staff Congress-CUNY (PSC) in the Bronx were well received when we joined the picket lines and offered our support. The president of BCTWGM Local 50 addressed a packed chapter meeting of PSC members. She reported that the strikers were 100% solid on the line and that they were committed to continue the fight, despite scabs in the plant and threatening letters from management. We passed the hat and made plans to support the bakers.
A week later, the citywide Delegate Assembly of PSC discussed and passed a resolution in support of the bakers. A delegate pointed out that while the Stella strike was different than the Boeing strike where tens of thousands were out, the struggles contained similar elements. One of the issues at Boeing is the loss of jobs due to the contracting out of work to non-union shops where mostly immigrant workers are paid a fraction of the pay unionized workers receive. At Stella, the Brynwood managers sent letters to workers telling them to quit their union and return to work at poverty wages. In both cases the owners are trying to drastically decrease wages.
While most PSC activists are sympathetic to the Stella strikers, there is disagreement as to how much of an effort our union can and should make to support the strike. Many feel overwhelmed by the financial crisis and upcoming budget cuts and feel that we should focus on our own problems.
PLP has always said that when workers fight their bosses we must support them vigorously, no matter how big or small the struggle. Helping these workers is not simply “charity.” The bosses use racism to prevent other workers from joining these mostly black and Latin workers in their fight, allowing for their super-exploitation. We must fight this by creating multi-racial unity in this and every fight against the bosses.
Only by uniting with other members of the working class can we build the fight for workers to fight back to end exploitation and the capitalist system. Workers and students from around the New York area should join the Stella workers on the line. Bring your friends and signs of support. Donate money and canned goods. Let us build solidarity and fight to win! J
Strikers Defy Cops, Stand Fast
BRONX, NY, October 9 –– Bronx, NY, October 9 –– “This is a great article,” said a Stella D’Oro striker (Local 50, Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union) as he and others read the CHALLENGE article supporting their strike.
“Scabs. That’s who they have working in there. There is only one supervisor in there now who knows anything about the job. All the workers who know how to make cookies, including the guy who runs the computer, are out here with us,” another striker told PLP members and friends when we joined them on the picket line today. The scabs not only don’t know how to make cookies, but more importantly, they don’t realize that they are helping their own enemies. They simply see this as a chance to earn a few dollars. They don’t understand that the Stella D’Oro strike can give all workers an example of how we can unite to fight back against our bosses.
One striker explained, “they [Stella D’Oro and other bosses] just want to bust the unions and stop people from fighting back. The cops have harassed us off and on. At times they have tried to shut down our picket line.” They removed the shelter used to protect the strikers from the weather and ordered the removal of all chairs from their strike site.
“But we are still here,” added another. Counting on fear, the bosses had expected strikers to run scared, give up and accept their fascist contract which cuts sick days, vacation days and wages (see October 15 CHALLENGE for more details). Instead, after nearly two months the strikers are still united, angry and determined to keep fighting.
PLP’ers asked some strikers to come to the October 15 UFT (United Federation of Teachers) Delegate Assembly where we will try to raise strike support. We also invited strikers to speak at the October 18 PLP forum on the elections.
All workers have a lot to learn from the Stella D’Oro strikers, including how they are sticking together, black, white, Latino, Asian, native-born and immigrant to fight back. This anti-racist unity terrifies the bosses who depend on racism to divide workers. All of us must carry this fight to the point of uniting the entire working class to get rid of all the bosses and their capitalist system and build a system run by the working class for the working class.