All is not well at the factory in Pennsylvania that makes those beloved marshmallow treats consumed on Easter and other holidays. Workers at Just Born Quality Confections, where Peeps are made, are on strike to protect their retirement benefits.
The fight is over changes to Just Born’s pension plan. The company, which also makes Mike and Ike and Hot Tamales candy, wants to switch new employees to a 401(k) instead of the multi-employer pension plan that currently exists. Just Born says that the current plan is less indestructible than a Peep itself, currently running at $3 billion in the red, with projected insolvency within 14 years. Peeps, by contrast, can allegedly survive a bath in acid.
The nuts and bolts of the fight are more complex than that, but the important part is the Peeps are not currently being made, which could lead to a Peep shortage next Easter. Each day of non-production leads to millions of Peeps remaining unborn, as it were.
Just Born, it appears, isn’t taking this lying down. In fact, the company is playing it pretty dirty. According to one officially filed complaint, Just Born sent a worker to pose as a union official and tell striking workers to return to work. It is also hiring replacement workers. But that still might not mean that Peep production has started again. “We pretty well know from people inside, and from what we can see on the outside, that they haven’t made a Peep yet,” chief shop steward Keith Turner told In These Times. “The longer that this goes on, the more squeezed that they are for their Peep production.”
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