This week, we'll be bringing you stories from the picket line in Williamson, NY, where 300 workers and their families have been standing strong since they were forced out on strike over 10 weeks ago.
Today's story comes from Joan Young:
“My name is Joan and my husband is Kevin Young, a striking worker at the Mott’s plant in Williamson, NY. Kevin and I have been married for 3 years, and he has worked at Mott’s for nearly 9 years. He works on machinery that packages single serve apple sauce cups. Kevin’s wages at Mott’s are our only income. I used to be a job coach for ARC, training the developmentally delayed for jobs in cleaning. I very much enjoyed my work, but my allergies and severe asthma made working with chemicals impossible. I have a number of medical needs, including a number of shots and pills—unfortunately without them I literally would be unable to get out of bed.
"The healthcare that Mott’s provided, and Kevin shared the cost of, covered only some of our medical expenses. We spent probably $1000 extra each month to cover the costs. During negotiations, Mott’s, aka Dr Pepper Snapple, proposed cutting the quality of the plan and raising our share of the costs. Dr Pepper Snapple also proposed cutting wages by $1.50 per hour, suspending even cost of living raises for 3 years, changing vacation accrual and eliminating the pension and cutting the 401k. When Kevin and his coworkers rejected these cuts, the company stopped negotiating, implemented the deal and forced Kevin and his 300 coworkers out on strike.
"Now we have to buy COBRA and count on Kevin’s coworkers to help us with emergencies. For us there was no choice-he had to walk that picket line. We thought a lot about what was right and what was wrong and there is no question--Dr Pepper Snapple has gone too far. It seems like Americans are losing middle class jobs all the time. You can’t get one, and you can’t keep one. Kevin is skilled and he has worked hard at his job at Mott’s-and now they want to cut his wages and benefits? I could go on Medicare but Medicare would not cover some of my much needed drugs and why should we have to be on welfare when the company is so successful, making $555 million in profit last year? Why are taxpayers supposed to pick up the slack when companies want to pad their bottom lines?”