If Peeps are your thing, it might be time to stock up a survival bunker for next spring. Workers at the Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, factory that makes the frightfully colored marshmallows have walked off the job for the first time in four decades, pledging to strike until Just Born Quality Confections improves wages and benefits, in a protest act the St. Louis Dispatch pretty much nails with its headline “No Justice, No Peeps.”
The fight is over union-worker contracts. Members unanimously rejected Just Born’s most recent offer, which they say slashed pensions, didn’t increase pay by enough, and upped their out-of-pocket health-care contributions. Just Born claims the problem is actually the union’s opposition to offering new hires a 401(k) instead of a pension. Regardless, 400 of the factory’s 600 workers are no longer producing the brand’s gelatinized bird candies, Hot Tamales, Mike and Ikes, and other popular confections.
Anyone who sees a tiny silver lining here — maybe pumpkin-spice Peeps have to get axed this year! — will be disappointed to hear Just Born’s fall candy supplies are still “in good shape.” It supposedly doesn’t foresee “serious production delays,” and in fact adds that Halloween orders have already shipped. And the company warns if things did get bad enough, it would consider hiring replacements to meet customer orders. But the workers, who’ve vowed to picket “as long as it takes,” say their employer is leaving out the highly strategic timing of their strike: Easter orders just started trickling in, so walking out now “hits them the hardest.”