Everything is Fine on the Picket Line (2010)
Charles Mattice [from Union Plus, Brothers and Sisters in Song contest]
From Buffalo to Gavelston, Mott's Workers Fight Back:
At separate events far north in Buffalo, New York, and down south in Galveston, Texas, Striking Mott’s workers are taking the fight to the company and its owner, Dr Pepper Snapple. The Williamson, New York, workers and RWDSU Local 220 members have been on strike since May 23. Company executives are demanding painful wage cuts despite enjoying a record year of $555 million in profits.
In Galveston, Texas, it was the start of the Mott’s Magical Taste Tour, where Mott’s representatives are handing out samples of many products, including single-serve applesauce products, which happen to be made by the striking Local 220 members in New York. When Mott’s decided to visit a sandcastle competition being held in Galveston, they were counting on the sun, the beach, and fun of the competition as a nice place to spread the word about their products. They weren’t counting on some unexpected guests: workers from the Mott’s plant in Williamson who came to spread the word about the rotten anti-worker tactics of Dr. Pepper Snapple.
We followed the people around who were giving out samples of the products that I made in the factory, and handing out flyers letting people on the beach know about what is going on and how they are trying to use the recession as an excuse to attack us, despite their big profits,” said Ryan Bubacz, who has worked at Mott’s for four years.
“Right after people got their samples, I’d let them know about the corporate greed behind these products. Most people were really shocked and receptive to our message, with many saying they’d avoid Snapple and Mott’s products until this was worked out,” Bubacz said.
“I think it’s really important that people understand what is going on with our jobs, and how this kind of corporate greed, if we don’t stop it, will ruin the country. When we tell them about this, people realize that it could be their jobs that somebody comes after next, and that just because your employer is profitable doesn’t mean they won’t come after you to make more money for themselves,” Bubacz added.
The Mott’s Magical Taste Tour will be visiting cities across the U.S., including San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Minneapolis, Charlotte, Tampa, and Boston.
“I hear it’s really nice in San Francisco and Chicago this time of year, and I’m really looking forward to helping to spread the message about Mott’s wherever they are. It’s a good product, but there’s nothing good about what they are trying to do to us, and people need to know about it,” Bubacz said.
The message was the same at the Working Families Party convention in Buffalo, New York this past weekend. Mott’s workers Shelly Snyder, Kent Knox, Randy Selly, and Linda Van De Viver were on hand to put a human face on the theme of the day: corporate greed, the assault on workers’ rights, and the widening wage gap between the rich and the middle class in North America. The attendees, who included elected officials, community groups, union members, activists, and other players in the New York political arena, heard all about the Mott’s assault on the workers in Williamson.
Mott’s worker Kent Knox told the convention about how the workers ended up on strike and on the picket lines.
“We entered negotiations in the spring with high hopes. Mott's/Dr. Pepper Snapple has never been more profitable. Last year they made a $555 million profit. This is exactly the kind of company that does well in a recession, and so we assumed that we would do well, too,” Knox said.
“The company had other ideas, demanding wage cuts of $1.50 per hour, an elimination of the pension plan, changes to the health care benefits, and other things we couldn’t accept. We never were given a fair chance at bargaining a contract, they never respected the process, saying instead that we were commodities like corn and oil and that since unemployment was so high they should get to pay less for us,” Knox added.
“We had no choice, and were forced to strike.”
According to Mott’s worker Shelly Snyder, “we aren’t people to the company. To Mott’s, I’m just a dot on a graph.”
Mott's and Dr. Pepper Snapple sell products all across the country, and Mott's workers are determined to spread the story everywhere these products are sold. Events like the WFP Convention and the sandcastle competition in Galveston are just the start.
For more on this campaign, please visit the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU)