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Last week, news broke out of Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, that factory workers at the Just Born candy company's Peeps factory have gone on strike. The men and women who make the delightfully fluffy, sweet, and soft confections walked out after the company proposed eliminating pensions, reducing wage increases, and increasing employee contributions to health plans.
Union officials for the Peeps' workers are pushing for the union's peeps to be treated fairly, receive reasonable wage increases, and the pension they've been promised. The cuts proposed by management come as the company has been making record sales.
At a time where the fluffy confection is more popular than it has ever been, it seems odd that management would be seeking to reduce worker pay. In 2014, Just Born reported net sales valued at $222 million, ranking number 65 in the 2014 Global Top 100 candy companies.
Factory workers at the Peeps plant know how much people love and rely on their fun creations to celebrate almost every holiday. To their credit, they completed the production of this year's Halloween candies before starting the strike. Although production for the Easter Peeps goes on year round, the strike may have an impact on meeting production goals as Easter is the confectioner's busiest holiday.
While the unionized workers have gone on strike in Bethlehem, non-union employees are still working to create candies for Valentine's Day and Easter. Just Born claims that the union has mischaracterized the company's position, yet the company has not specifically explained just what the union has inaccurately depicted. Amid the profits that are "off the charts" and sales growing by "double digits," it is difficult to understand how a producer of such sweet things that brings joy to so many people would try to take away their workers' pensions.
The workers that make Peeps are paid between $20 to $25 per hour. If the strike is unsuccessful, that amount will effectively be reduced as the workers will now have to look elsewhere for retirement planning as well as have increased health care costs. Workers are asking supporters to take to social media and to boycott the sweet treats until the company changes its plan.
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