March 23, 2016
By Joe Maniscalco
Brooklyn, NY – Workers at the vanishing Cumberland Street plant next to the Brooklyn Navy Yard have ratified an exiting deal that includes both wage increases and the ability to take a weekly or lump sum payout.
Earlier this year, more than 300 workers at the Cumberland Street plant — producers of “Sweet n’ Low” and “Sugar In The Raw” products — learned that the company they spent decades working for in some cases, was eliminating their jobs and heading to the Midwest.
The de Blasio administration, as well as other city officials, tried and failed to entice Cumberland plant owners to remain in Brooklyn.
UFCW Local 2103, the union representing plant workers, had been bargaining a contract since September, when they suddenly learned that plant owners had instead decided to move operations out of state.
“It was really a blindside announcement,” UFCW Local 2013 President Louis Mark Carotenuto told LaborPress at the time.
The exiting deal the union has been able to secure for workers includes both a successor CBA and an effects package.
“We at Local 2013 are certainly proud to have accomplished the development of the package we were able to bargain on behalf of our members, and to be able to provide some financial comfort as they leave the employ of this company and seek out whatever their futures may hold,” Carotenuto said in an email.
Some of the package highlights include a minimum of two months pay with a three-month annuity for the least senior people, as well as a graduated scale based on seniority covering two weeks of pay for each year of employ up to 10 years, and three weeks of pay per year of service above 10 years.
Plant owners have also agreed to contribute $500 for medical screenings, in addition to help with ESL classes, job fairs, resume assistance and letters of recommendation.
Jobs at the plant are expected to start disappearing later this spring, before finally concluding in December.
The loss of Cumberland Plant jobs comes at a time when business is booming inside the Brooklyn Navy Yard.
On Monday night, Deputy Mayor Alicia Glen told a gathering at BRIC [Brooklyn Information & Culture] on Fulton Street, that the city expects to more than double the 7,000 jobs now existing at the waterside industrial hub.
UFCW Local 2013 applauds the city's effort to help create jobs, but remains concerned about the quality of those jobs.
"Our concern is non-union jobs," Carotenuto said. "It's great that they are seeking people to take the place, but they need to be sure that the jobs they're brining in are good paying, family sustaining jobs."