The latest updates on the Just Born Strike- Replacement Workers Called in

UPDATE:  Just Born Inc has announced that they are hiring replacement workers to fill in for the striing workers.  Just Born confirmed this Thursday night, September 8th.  Matt Pye, Vice President of Corporate Affairs, stated, “While Just Born has started the process of hiring replacement workers in order to meet ongoing customer demand, we look forward to continued discussions with (the union) to reach an agreement.  We have been an active supporter and contributor to the Lehigh Valley since 1923, and look forward to many more years of being a pillar in the community.”

BETHLEHEM-  400+ Union employees at the Just Born Factory in Bethlehem went on strike yesterday, Wednesday September 7th over contract disputes about wages, pensions and health care benefits.  The most recent contract expired back in June, with negotiations ongoing since that time.

Just Born is a Bethlehem-based business with international fame.  They make non-chocolate candies, including the legendary Peeps, Mike and Ike and Hot Tamale candies.

Just Born is ranked 19th largest among North American Confectioners, grossing around $231 million a year.  It was founded by Sam Born in 1923 in Brooklyn NY.  The company moved to Bethlehem in 1932.  They employ around 600 total employees at the plant on Stefko Boulevard, as well as an operation in Philadelphia and a few shops.

In a public statement, Hank McKay, the President of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 6, said, “Workers deserve to be treated fairly with reasonable wage increases and a pension that allows them to retire with dignity.”

Non-management Union Employees currently make, on average, between $20 and $25 an hour.

According to the Union, talks broke down after Just Born laid out a proposal that would offer significant increases in pay, lower overall health care cost to employees, but eliminate pensions.

After Just Born rejected a counter-proposal by the Union to scale back on the health care plan in exchange for keeping the pensions, the workers voted unanimously, on September 2nd, to go on strike.

The union said it offered to modify the health plan to save a “substantial” amount of money, but Just Born rejected the proposal. Production and maintenance workers earn between $20 and $25 an hour, according to union workers.

Just Born officials deny the claim by the Union that they planned on ending pensions.  The company countered they only proposed to switch new hires to a 401(k) plan, while they would still offer contributions to the pension plans for existing employees.

Matt Pye, Just Born’s vice president of corporate affairs, stated, “Just Born has been in business since 1923, and we care very deeply about the people we employ and welfare of our local community.  We want to sustain our business so we can continue to offer good-paying jobs and be a pillar in the community for another 93 years.”

The company has only had one other strike in its history, though the year is in dispute.  Workers have cited 1972, while the company was not sure of the year.  The strike lasted for one day.