Tag Archives: stella doro strike

Follow Stella D’Oro Workers’ Lead Against Rulers’ Attacks:‘Make the Bosses Take the Losses’

NEW YORK CITY, September 12 — Stella D’Oro bosses told its workers this week that they will be thrown on the street and that their bakery will be closed — the brand and some machinery having been sold to Lance, a non-union company. It will make the products at a bakery in Ashland, Ohio.

Stella workers, having struck for 11 months in a fiercely militant struggle against wage-cuts, descended with their supporters on the otherwise silent Labor Day parade today. Their contingent of 350 filled a city block with banners, signs, and chants of “Keep Stella in the Bronx: Fight, Fight, Fight!” and “The Workers, United, Will Never Be Defeated.” Cleaners from Domestic Workers United and musicians from the Rude Mechanicals group made the chanters’ rhythms dance and sparkle.

The effect on workers marching past was electric. Eyes brightened, fists went up, the booming chants echoed from scores of marchers, especially the many ranks of construction workers walking behind or riding on their heavy rigs. Imagine those rigs surrounding the Stella plant, preventing any machines being moved out!

“Keep Stella in the Bronx” struck a real chord with New York workers who identify the Bronx as a working-class borough. If they didn’t know about the Stella struggle, they do now.

PLP’s Stella supporters helped build the action from within our own unions and mass organizations, and continued the flow of CHALLENGE sales and chants like, “Kick the Bosses in the Ass: Power to the Working Class;” and “Make the Bosses Take the Losses: Keep Stella Open.” PL’ers added the chant, “Whose Factory? Our Factory!” which attacks the essence of capitalism, and the internationalist chant in Spanish, “From north to south, from east to west, we’ll win the battle, whatever the cost.”

The workers are planning a September 25 march and rally from Wall Street, site of Lance’s banker, Goldman Sachs, to City Hall. PLP members are backing the workers as they absorb this heavy blow, helping them contact the Ashland workers to explain what happened here, and planning how to fight for their jobs.

The bosses’ laws protect their ownership of the means of production, enabling them to move around assets indiscriminately without any thought  about the effect on workers. None of us is safe under their rule. The Communist Manifesto described this inevitable destructive effect of capitalism back in 1848: “Everything solid melts into air.”

But workers inevitably resist being discarded like a bad batch of cookies. We’re learning from such battles that the real war is against capitalism itself, and that our international revolutionary party can create an alternative, a communist society where workers rule and share all the value we produce. But for that to happen, we must melt capitalism into the air.

These are days of hard political debate and soul-searching struggle among the Stella workers themselves. Their communist party, the PLP, is among them with practical help and unbreakable friendships, with the ideas of CHALLENGE, and with trust in the working class.

It is workers such as this dynamic international group at a small Bronx bakery who will help make PLP a mass party able to destroy the whole rotten system.

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‘Scabs in Blue! Scabs in Blue!’

Stella D’Oro Strikers Face Bosses’ System and Its State

BRONX, NY, April 1 — On a rainy, cold afternoon, chants of “Scabs in blue! Scabs in blue!” rang out as the bosses’ cops stopped Stella D’Oro strikers and their supporters from marching from their picket line to a local supermarket. They wanted to urge neighborhood workers to support this strike by boycotting Stella D’Oro products. As a PL’er addressing the rally explained, Stella strikers are fighting not just their own bosses but the capitalist system and its state. The strikers very much liked the front-page article in the April 8th CHALLENGE championing their struggle — one of the very rare strikes in the U.S. today showing multi-racial, working-class unity against the bosses’ attacks.

Sometimes strikers talk with cops at a picket line or demonstration. Cops, however, are not neutral. They serve to protect the interests of the bosses and their system. Has a cop ever arrested scabs for dangerously racing their cars through a picket line or arrested bosses for falsely accusing strike leaders of harassment? Hell no! Has a judge ever issued an injunction to prevent bosses from hiring scabs to break strikes? Never.

At today’s picket line the cops invented laws to limit the effectiveness of strikers and their supporters. First they said we couldn’t cross the street in front of the factory. Then they said if we left the picket line in front of the factory, we couldn’t return to resume picketing. Finally when we tried to march on another route, they said that we couldn’t walk on the sidewalk to the supermarket because we needed a march permit.

Although the multi-racial group of over 150 strikers and supporters wanted to press forward, a score of cops with guns at their sides were able to stop us. Later, at a closing rally for today’s action, a strike supporter from the Professional Staff Congress (college teachers’ union) declared that if the cops didn’t protect the Stella bosses, the workers might have won this strike long ago. Like the speaker said, “We’ll be back!”

While the Stella D’Oro strike is about trying to maintain prior levels of pay and benefits, this strike has proven that the capitalist system benefits only the bosses. What we need is to smash the bosses’ system with communist revolution!

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500 Marchers Back Stella D’Oro Strikers ‘NO CONTRACT, NO COOKIES!’

stella-march

BRONX, NY, January 31 — Braving freezing temperatures, 500 Stella D’Oro strikers and supporters marched down Broadway chanting, “No Contract, No Cookies!”

As CHALLENGE readers know, the 135 Stella strikers are 100% solid on the line. They’ve been out for nearly six months but are determined not to let the Brynwood bosses (who own Stella D’Oro) bust their union and take away holidays, healthcare benefits and sick days, while demanding annual wage-cuts for the next five years.

While the strike involves a limited number of workers, it is significant on two counts: (1) it not only sets an example of militant workers fighting back against the bosses’ attempts to make workers take the losses resulting from the bosses’ crisis; and (2) it involves predominantly black and Latino workers — who, because of racism, suffer disproportionately from the bosses’ attacks — giving leadership to the whole working class.

This march and rally was larger and more spirited than previous ones. Supporters came from the PSC (Professional Staff Congress-CUNY), the teachers union, District Council 37, RWDSU (supermarket employees), nurses from the NYS Nurses Association, other unions and the community. But critically important, most speeches at the closing rally were by the strikers, not politicians who had dominated earlier rallies.

PSC’s president vowed continuing support for the struggle, telling Stella strikers that, “You must win; we cannot allow you to lose.” A George Washington H.S. student took the mic and showed the crowd support letters from his fellow students and funds collected at their school.

In sharp contrast to this genuine display of solidarity from working-class youth was the shameful performance of Ed Ott, NYC Central Labor Council director. He appeared for only a few minutes at the pre-march rally. When someone in the crowd called out, “Ed, Ed, tell us how much money the Central Labor Council has given to support the struggle,” his pathetic answer was, “We haven’t been asked yet.”

PLP members have played an active role throughout the strike. At the closing rally, a PL speaker explained how the Stella workers inspired all workers and how communist revolution is necessary to eliminate the bosses and their system. During the rallies and march, 555 people bought CHALLENGES.

When some phony leftists chanted, “People’s power,” PL’ers overrode it with “Workers’ Power!” And when they said, “People, united, will never be defeated,” PL’ers responded with, “Workers, united…” In both cases, the great majority of the crowd joined PL’s most class-conscious chants. PLP opposes the slogan of “people’s power” because it means an alliance of workers with bosses and politicians.

One weakness in the strike is scabs working in the plant. It’s estimated that production in 30% of normal. With mass support at the picket line, stopping scabs becomes possible. While workers try to build a successful city-wide boycott of Stella products, the bosses’ strategy may be to take losses until August when the strikers’ benefits run out.

PL organizers are encouraging greater militancy. The Stella workers can reach out to other members of Local 50 in other bakeries and to other locals of the bakers’ international union.stella_challenge

In picket line conversations we have found that the workers are interested in discussing political questions, such as the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and the collapse of Wall Street, and how these events will affect the working class. One worker e-mailed us a set of pictures showing the horrors resulting from the Israeli invasion and massacre in Gaza.

Many strikers are reading CHALLENGE. We plan to organize a contingent of Stella workers and their families and friends to attend this year’s

May Day dinner. Fight the bosses! Build the Party!

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Stella Strikers Face Phony Pols, Cops, Scabs

BRONX, NY, October 18 — Fighting Stella D’Oro strikers were joined by fellow workers from different locals for a rally in support of their strike. PLP students and teachers were also in attendance with revolutionary greetings and anti-scab anger.
Since elections are approaching, several Bronx politicians showed up at the rally. They spoke one after another and made promises to support the strikers. But in reality they have done virtually nothing.

A PL’er exposed the role of scabs, cops and politicians. No matter how badly you need a job, scabbing is never justifiable. When you scab, you are a traitor to your class — the working class. Scabs must be stopped. The politicians have allowed the bakery to remain open even though no quality-control inspector (legally required) is there. The politicians have allowed the cops to remove the shelter and chairs used by the strikers.

The politicians and the cops are on the side of the bosses, whether the Stella D’Oro bosses, the Boeing bosses or any others. The politicians depend on big business for the money to win elections. Their job is to protect the rich rulers of New York City and the country as a whole. As long as the rich run the system, things will always get worse for workers.

Since the rally, the cops have again demonstrated that they are the servants of the bosses. This week, in an attempt to break the strike, the Stella D’Oro bosses and NYC police orchestrated the arrest of one of the strike’s key organizers. One of the bosses falsely claimed to have received a phone threat from this organizer. The organizer was pointed out by the general manager, arrested and held for two days at Bronx central booking on $20,000 bail. Though charged with only two misdemeanors, this was clearly not only an attempt to remove the organizer from the struggle, but also to deplete the union’s strike fund.

As a result of this and other attacks, the strike fund is rapidly running out. Any contributions will be well-used and greatly appreciated. Since the arrest, PLP comrades have met with the strike leadership to push for immediate demonstrations to call for the dropping of these trumped-up charges against this strike leader.

The only way we will have decent lives is through working-class revolution. Many workers responded enthusiastically to the Party’s ideas. Counter to our message, the union president pushed the line of following the law, doing whatever the cops say and counting on the politicians. This is a losing strategy. We must count on our fellow workers and ourselves. We must build a united fight-back that takes on the bosses, their politicians, their cops and their scabs.

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Anti-Racist Unity Key to Stella D’Oro Strike

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.

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