The 400 workers responsible for producing the marshmallow birdies known as Peeps returned to work Friday, following an almost month-long strike over wages, health benefits and pension plans.
The workers decided to return to work a day after the company sued the union for allegedly violating a “no strike” clause in their contract. While the contract expired June 18, Just Born Quality Confections claimed that the “no-strike clause” was still in effect until Sept. 18 under a contract extension.
The union called the lawsuit “frivolous” and asserted that the no-strike clause expired when the contract expired June 18, according to the Toledo Blade. The company claims that the strike was strategically planned to take place when production for Easter was to begin.
The workers, represented by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) voted to strike after unanimously rejecting a contract proposal and walked out of the Bethlehem, Penn.-based plant Sept. 7.
The union asserted that the company proposed to eliminate the pension plan in exchange for a 401(k), offered below-standard wage increases and proposed an increase in employee contribution for health insurance care. The union rejected the terms, and made a counter-offer the company then dismissed.
Union President Hank McKay said workers decided to return after recent progress on a new contract. Talks are set to continue Oct. 13, according to WTAE TV.
Just Born was founded in 1923 and started producing Peeps in 1953. In the early years, it took 27 hours to create one Peep, while today it takes just six minutes. Just Born is also the maker of Mike and Ikes and Hot Tamales.
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