Breaking News on Mott's Strike!
September 7, 2010
U.S. Department of Labor Secretary Hilda Solis calls on Mott's/Dr. Pepper Snapple and RWDSU to "get back to bargaining table and resume negotiations immediately." Secretary Solis emphasizes that the Mott's workers "who have dedicated years of service to the company … cannot afford the pay cut."
Essay by Hilda L. Solis
September 4, 2010
Labor Day has come to mark the beginning of a political campaign, the end of summer or the start of a new school year. Sometimes, the only reminder we have of the holiday is the barrage of commercials promoting weekend sales. Pundits often use Labor Day to assess the status of the American labor movement — to provide a “state of the unions” if you will.
I have no doubt that this year, the focus will be right here, where more than 300 workers at Mott’s Williamson plant have been on strike since May 23. The plant makes apple juice and apple sauce. The strike is making local history and gaining national attention.
Companies don’t like strikes. Workers don’t either. At issue: pay and profits. But it is never really that simple. Mott’s parent company, Dr Pepper Snapple, posted net income of $555 million last year and has asked workers to take an hourly wage cut and other concessions. The majority of workers, members of Local 220 of the Retail, Wholesale and Department Store Union, UFCW have dedicated years of service to the company and say they cannot afford the pay cut. Comparing the two sides is like comparing apple juice to orange juice.
As the nation’s secretary of labor, I will always respect and recognize a worker’s right to organize and bargain collectively. And I will always respect and recognize companies that produce exceptional products, innovate and treat all their employees fairly and with dignity.
So which side of this debate am I on? I’m rooting for the process. I want the company and the workers to get back to the bargaining table. I want them to resume negotiations immediately. I want them to do the hard work together that will get the company and the union members working again. Together. That’s the value of collective bargaining — workers and management rolling up their sleeves, resolving differences and finding creative solutions that work for our businesses, our families and our communities.
Bottom line: I want American workers at work — making great products for successful American companies.
The process isn’t easy. Few things worthwhile ever are. This Labor Day, perhaps we should and celebrate, recognize and honor that, too.