On Thursday, September 17, City Comptroller Bill Thompson warned snack-food firm Lance, Inc. not to shift production of Stella D’oro snacks from the Bronx to Ohio.
Lance bought the Stella D’oro brand from Brynwood Partners in early September, bad news for more than 130 Stella D’oro union workers, on strike from August 2008 to July 2009.
The workers went on strike when the Connecticut-based Brynwood, owner of Stella D’oro and its Kingsbridge factory, proposed a wage and benefits cut. In July 2009, a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) judge ordered Brynwood to reinstate the workers.
Brynwood appealed, then sold the Stella D’oro brand to Lance. Brynwood still owns the Kingsbridge factory. None of the union workers plan to head west to Ohio.
Thompson penned a letter to Lance president David Singer on September 17. The Democratic mayoral candidate reminded Singer of the NLRB case and blasted Brynwood for poor labor practice.
Thompson argued that firms are duty-bound to bargain in good faith. When a firm fails to do so, the firm, its workers and its investors suffer, he said.
Thompson suggested that Lance keep production in Kingsbridge, as the factory is tailor-made to bake Stella D’oro snacks.
If Lance stayed in Kingsbridge, it would gain a foothold in New York and would retain brand loyalty. It would also dispel the notion that Lance helped Brynwood swindle the Bronx, Thompson said. Finally, union workers who depend on the success of Stella D’oro would benefit.
Lance is headquartered in North Carolina and manufactures snack foods like Cape Cod Potato Chips.
“We’re excited about the opportunity to add the Stella D’oro brand to our growing portfolio of niche snack food brands,” Singer said.
The union workers, members of BCTGM Local 50, earn $18 to $23 an hour.
Brynwood bought Stella D’oro at a discount for $15 million in 2006. It sold the brand to Lance for an as yet undisclosed sum.
In July, Thompson asked the Pennsylvania State Employees’ Retirement System to withdraw its Brynwood investments.
In August, Stella D’oro workers held a protest outside the Manhattan offices of Lance investor Goldman Sachs.