MOTT'S WORKERS STAND UP FOR AMERICA

Who'll take a stand for America's founding ethic of the common good? You won't get such leadership from Washington – and damned sure not from those in the corporate suites who're ruthlessly pushing an ethic of uncommon greed, saying to the middle class: "Adios chumps."

Who’ll take a stand for America’s founding ethic of the common good? You won’t get such leadership from Washington – and damned sure not from those in the corporate suites who’re ruthlessly pushing an ethic of uncommon greed, saying to the middle class: “Adios chumps.”

Instead, look to places like Williamson in upstate New York. This is apple country, home to a sprawling Mott’s apple processing plant. But the Mott family is long gone – and so is the sense of shared purpose that had unified owners and workers.

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In 2008, Mott’s became a subsidiary of Dr. Pepper Snapple, a giant Texas conglomerate that also owns 7Up, Hawaiian Punch, and dozens of other brands. DPS, as it’s known, is doing very well, having banked a record profit of half-a-billion dollars last year. But its honchos apparently missed that basic kindergarten lesson about sharing, so they introduced themselves to the area by eliminating the workers annual summer picnic, the children’s Christmas party, and other community-building touches.

Then, this March, the new bosses abruptly demanded pay cuts (averaging about $3,000 per worker), slashed pensions, and hiked employee costs for health care. Why? Because they asserted that Mott’s 300 workers were paid more than others in the area and should simply lower their standard of living accordingly. This from a corporation that paid its CEO $6.5 million last year! Adding insult to injury, the plant manager called workers “a commodity like soybeans” that can easily be replaced. Take the cuts – or else, demanded DPS

The workers chose “else,” going on a strike that’s now in its fourth month. This is not just about them, but about what America will be. It’s a courageous stand for the middle class and our country’s commitment to economic justice. To stand with them, go to www.ufcw.org.

“In Mott’s Strike, More Than Pay at Stake,” The New York Times, August 17, 2010.

“Rotten Apples, Core Values,” www.thenation.com, August 12, 2010.

“Battling the bastards is about as much fun as you can have with your clothes on.”

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