Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Be careful what you wish for...

From the NY Times:

Last week, a federal judge ordered Stella D’oro to reinstate 134 workers after a protracted 10-month strike. This week, the company invited the workers back. It also announced that it would close the factory in October.

The decision to close Stella D’oro’s only factory, which is based in the Kingsbridge section of the Bronx, was made by Brynwood Partners, the private equity company based in Greenwich, Conn., which bought the company in 2006.

The workers had gone on strike on strike last Aug. 14, two weeks after their contract had expired. The owners maintained that the hourly wages of $18 to $22 an hour and nine weeks of paid leave made the factory unprofitable. It demanded significant reductions in wages and benefits in order to move the factory to profitability.


These are just some of the jobs saved by Mike Bloomberg's Five Borough Economic Opportunity Plan! But seriously, folks - $22/hr and 9 weeks paid leave to make cookies?

42 comments:

Anonymous said...

22hr and 9 weeks leave?


I bet the majority of the workforce there recently left jobs in Ecuador/DR/Bolivia/etc where $22 a *day* is a luxury.

There are people getting out of college with 4 year degrees with in-demand professions that make less!

A Better NYC said...

It doesn't matter if you're manufacturing automobiles or cookies....labor unions are a leading cause to the downward spiraling of US production and profitability.

Just another example of why jobs are being exported to China and India.

Dumb bastards!

Lino said...

While those wages do seem excessive for the work involved, I'll bet the real reason for the new owner's demands were the price paid for the operation.

We've seen this time-and-again. Whether it's a leech landlord or factory owner, they buy a business for more money than justified and cynically attempt to circumvent contracts-leases to recoup a profit.

Since "Brynwood" is a private company, we'll probably never know the truth, you won't get it from them.

Lino

Ridgewoodian said...

A Better NYC: Just another example of why jobs are being exported to China and India.

I don't really know about working conditions in India but YEAH, let's be like China and do away with workers' rights and basically employ slave labor. And if anyone protests we'll shoot 'em in the back of the head, charge their family for the bullet, and harvest their organs for sale on the black market. That's a GREAT idea.

Anonymous said...

Maybe instead of $22/hr, the highest wage should have been $11-15 and the vacation capped at 3 weeks. That's already more than a lot of people who went to college receive.

Unions are destroying NYC.

Ridgewoodian said...

By the way, assuming an eight hour work day and a five day work week,$22/hr comes out to about $45,760 a year - which in this city in this day and age is barely enough to get by, especially if one has dependents. I doubt anyone is getting filthy rich on that pay. Although the vacation time is pretty good.

Anonymous said...

Another commenter with its head deep inside the unreality hole.

$11-$15 per hour... That's already more than a lot of people who went to college receive.

Huh??? You're talking about China again?

Unions are destroying NYC.

It's funny that you say that NOW, when union membership is at near record lows. Did NYC die in the 30s? In the 70s? Will NYC die a thousand deaths?

Anonymous said...

Lots of entry level jobs that require degrees make between $20,000-30,000. Why should these people make more than that?

Anonymous said...

And that's just the salary. How about the health benefits, pension, etc?

Anonymous said...

i was happy to hear about this story

now these workers can enjoy 52 weeks of vacation

f*ck unions

A Better NYC said...

Ridgewoodian...

I agree 100% with your explination of the working conditions in China.

But the truth of the matter is that jobs will continue to go overseas if that's where the cheap labor is...all because union demands are getting too expensive.

Anonymous said...

Better NYC is right. This has nothing to do with bloomberg - unions are ruining america and making it less competitive. $22/hr to make cookies, seriously. These jobs will go to china where it can be done for $2/hr.

Anonymous said...

Why should a kid with a GED make $45,760 a year. Yes, no one is going to get filthy rich on that pay, but thats more money than most college educated people make after graduating. They call it unskilled labor for a reason. Anyone can do it.

georgetheatheist said...

I'm going to miss Stella D'Oro. I just love a dry cookie. The anisette drives me nuts.

Anonymous said...

Yes I am a working person, I support Unions but... how come all the people working there are Hispanic immigrants from South/Central America and Mexico?

where are the white or black Americans in this picture? We need good jobs too.

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed that so many people think that $22.00/hr is a lot of money. That's $880/week in NYC! Does every job in NY have to pay minimum wage? That used to be for teenagers when I was young. How about the person that's been doing this for 10- 20 years? Is 45K/year considered so incredibly generous? It's surprising that so many people don't want to see other people make a very middle income wage.

Anonymous said...

$45K + benefits is more like $80K per year.

Anonymous said...

I'm amazed that so many people think that $22.00/hr is a lot of money. That's $880/week in NYC! Does every job in NY have to pay minimum wage? That used to be for teenagers when I was young. How about the person that's been doing this for 10- 20 years? Is 45K/year considered so incredibly generous? It's surprising that so many people don't want to see other people make a very middle income wage.

_______________________________

Why just because you put your time in do should you get paid more? In my line of work, a increase in pay comes with increase in responsibility and change in job title.

Aside from cost of living, if you have been pushing the same buttons for 20 years, your wage should not change.

Anonymous said...

Yeh ,lets get rid of labor unions.let's go back to 6 day work weeks with tuesday off,no ot after 40 hrs,etc............jealous low life assholes........

Anonymous said...

$45K is not a lot of money, but it is a lot to pay for unskilled labor esp. when the job can easily be done for half the cost in other states or for pennies on the dollar overseas. It's a new world out there. Don't fool yourself into thinking that its still 1950, when you could work at one plant for life support a stay at home wife have a white picket fence 2.5 kids and a dog and get a fat pension when its all over. Those days are gone.

This is why you should be telling your kids to study hard and go to college, so that they won't be stuck in this situation. When your competition as a worker is a Mexican day labor and china sweatshops you are going to lose everytime. There is no midlle class life to be made working in a factories anymore. We can't compete with China and India on price.

Get a skill folks - the gap between the uber rich and poor will continue to widen. The future of jobs in this country will be 1) jobs that require muscle retail/service industry / factory (all paying close to min. wage) and 2) jobs that require thinking, engineering, computers, business, doctors, etc. Pick which side you want to be on.

Anonymous said...

Machine operators normally make $20/hour

Anonymous said...

"I bet the majority of the workforce there recently left jobs in Ecuador/DR/Bolivia/etc where $22 a *day* is a luxury."

Now D.R. and Bolivia make up the illegal workforce too? What an idiot you are. Get your countries straight jackass. Dominicans have been here for over a half century and and very few are here illegally- as they have one of the best relationships with the US of all Latin American countries, second maybe to Columbia.

And $22 is a luxury here for plenty of people here too.

Stop being so sour about life and hateful toward people that are courageous enough to try and make something of themselves- at any cost. They are not to blame for your follies.

Ignorant trash.

Anonymous said...

There are illegals here from every country on the globe.

Anonymous said...

"$45K + benefits is more like $80K per year."

Really? What the f kind of benefits cost 35k?

You sir (or mam) are an i d i o t.

I'd bet the farm that 90% of Crappers don't even make 45K. But they'll blame it on the illegals instead of their poor work ethic, lack of education and overall shitty attitudes.

Anonymous said...

Really? Well then I guess I own that farm. Along with the house I bought like most of the other people in Queens who comment here regularly.

Anonymous said...

"poor work ethic, lack of education and overall shitty attitudes."

Poor work ethic? I own my own business. Lack of education? I have a Master's Degree. Overall shitty attitude? I am not the one writing disparaging comments about other people (union and non-union) on blogs all day. Get a life.

Anonymous said...

Perhaps this is a bluff by management to get the workers to agree to reductions in wages and vacation.

Anonymous said...

A segment of an insightful comment from a NYTimes commenter
"The key to this article is “The owners maintained that the hourly wages of $18 to $22 an hour and nine weeks of paid leave made the factory unprofitable”
I challenge the NYT to print the provision of the CBA that sets forth nine weeks of paid leave. What balderdash!
And $18 is $37,440 for a full year’s salary. That’s exhorbitant?"
I highly doubt the employees received 9 weeks paid vacation. I don't know any union workers who get that.

Ridgewoodian said...

This from the July 1st Times story about the strike:

"...Steven Davis, an administrative law judge with the National Labor Relations Board in Washington, found that the company had improperly refused to bargain with the union by declining to provide the union with a copy of its 2007 audited financial statement.

"The company unilaterally declared an impasse on Aug. 27, 2008, nearly two weeks after the strike started, even though the legal conditions for declaring an impasse had not been met, Judge Davis found. And when the union made an unconditional offer to return to work on May 6 of this year, the factory illegally refused to put the workers back on the job, Judge Davis found. He ordered Stella D’Oro to pay the workers, with interest, going back to May 1."

This from an NLRB that's been toothless for eight or ten years. Yeah, down with that evil, evil union fighting for living wages and working conditions.

Ridgewoodian said...

ANONYMOUS: I highly doubt the employees received 9 weeks paid vacation. I don't know any union workers who get that.

You're probably right. According to a number of comments on the Times site it's more like this: some workers who have been there a long time can get up to 5 weeks of vacation. That's pretty good - for the U.S., anyway - but it's not completely unheard of. In addition there's sick time accrual - apparently 12 days a year - plus another 12 holiday days. All told that's about 9 weeks. I don't know if these comments are accurate but they seem reasonable. I bet a lot of us have roughly similar deals in our own jobs. And those of us who don't clearly need a union!

Anonymous said...

To the last few pro-union posters - they are alligning cookies on a coveyor belt and putting cookies into boxes. Let's not pretend that these skill demand premium benefits and vacation time. Its foolish to think otherwise. Does anyone think that the new plant that will open up down south or overseas will pay anything close to that? The union sold these guys down the river and they are doing it all over the US - if they are not taking down whole industries like the automotive. Unions are a legal shakedown. You will pay up or we will bend you over a fence. Well now the tables have turn in the last ten years and unions did not get the memo. They are still holding on to their excesssive packages and that will be their undoing.

QJohnnie said...

In 2005, the average wage for the manufacturing sector in NYC was $43,900 (NYS Dept of Labor.)

Clearly, the union was making unreasonable demands. Brynwood should have to pay no more than only undocumented illegals will work for. (What's the going rate? $80/day plus a sandwich?)

Anonymous said...

The average manufacturing wage in NYC may have been $43,900, but making cookies is not comparable to a lot of the other types of manufacturing skills that require skilled labor. Those would be the jobs at the higher end of the spectrum.

Anonymous said...

No one would need $22.00 an hour to make cookies if rents weren't circling the moon.

A worker who gets $22.00 an hour for a 35 hour week gets less than $1000.00 dollars a week before taxes, yet no one thinks anything about $1300/month rents in the outer boroughs--not Manhattan.

The annual cost of train fair for this person on an unlimited pass is close to a $1000.00/year.

Medical costs are madness, food is stratospheric. Before you ask that person to receive Chinese wages, ask if his creditors will accept Chinese prices.

Anonymous said...

You are totally missing the point. This isn’t a question of the cost of living in NYC – we all know that it is high. The point is that if your only employable skill in counting 10 cookies and putting them in a box you can not expect a kings ransom for doing it. And yes $22 an hour and 9 weeks vacation is a lot to pay for sorting cookies.

Ridgewoodian said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Ridgewoodian said...

ANONYMOUS: And yes $22 an hour and 9 weeks vacation is a lot to pay for sorting cookies.

It wasn't "vacation" it was "leave." That issue was dealt with above. And I don't believe the article stated what the workers actually did on the job so it might be a lot more than just "sorting cookies." And even if it was just sorting, well, at least that contributes to manufacture, the making of things. You know - industry, what the wealth of this country was traditionally built upon. I wonder what the leeches on the board of directors of Brynwood Partners actually contribute to society - and I bet each and every one of them makes a lot more than $45K a year.

Anonymous said...

Vacation, leave paid time off, whatever you want to call it. Nine weeks is a lot.

Sorting cookies, pushing a button, driving a forklift. Its all the same - unskilled labor. Which means you can pull any Joe off the street to do their jobs and with as many unemployed as we have it would be easy to find people to do it for less the $22 an hour.

Manufacture is no longer where the wealth of this country is built. Take a look at the Fortune 500 list. Very few of the American companies on the list actually make things. They are mostly in retail or financial services.

Keep your head in the sand if you like. Manufacturing in this country is dying. If you want to hitch your wagon to the availibilty of jobs with salaries inflated by unions I wish you the best of luck. I suspect there will be an article like this about you in a few years time. Meanwhile the employees at Brynwood Partners will have jobs.

Anonymous said...

We better bring manufacturing back because the days when China will lend us unlimited money backed up with nothing but air are coming to an end.

Read, "American Theocracy," by Phillips about the danger of confusing trading with real economic activity.

What will you "trade" when you make nothing? So far, the farmers are the main ones keeping us afloat as they did in the days of Jefferson before we had an industrial base.

We better start ramping up for our own domestic markets if nothing else.

Anonymous said...

We can't have a strong industrial base if the unions are going to keep the labor costs relatively high. It just won't happen.

How much should someone get paid for doing a job that absolutely anyone off the street can do? Unless labor costs in the U.S. come down, the industries that will drive us are high tech and service industries, as well as agriculture.

Anonymous said...

The problem is that when we "save" money by buying from China and India, it stays in China and India. The real cost has been a sucking of capital from the United States for the last 20 years.

It was Ford who first raised the wages of industrial workers. His rationale? He wanted them to be able to buy his cars. Certainly their wages were not so high once they turned around and gave him the money back in the form of purchases.

I think that the wage and benefit package that the union wanted was somewhat rich and unrealistic, but we won't have a healthy consumer economy chasing the bottom.

How can people without any money support our economy--the foreigners won't support our economy.

Galbraith's 1929 has an excellent explanation of what happens when capital is sucked out of the working and consuming classes. The result? A depression.

Anonymous said...

The level of selfish jealousy and ignorance displayed in these remarks is astounding. We are truly in a race to the bottom!!