Peeps – the Easter staple and debatably edible marshmallow – could be as hard to find as the real Easter bunny this coming April. Not to mention all the other candies in the Just Born portfolio, including childhood favorites like Mikes & Ikes and Hot Tamales as well as childhood banes – specifically Goldenberg’s Peanut Chews. (I’m cringing just thinking of finding one in my Halloween bag.) Earlier this week, union workers at Just Born Quality Confections walked off the job and began picketing outside of the brand’s Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, headquarters.
According to Allentown’s The Morning Call, the strike is the first to happen at Just Born in four decades, with approximately 400 union employees striking over disagreements on wages, health benefits and pensions. One striking worker said the union specifically chose now for the walkout because of the effect it can have on the Easter rush. “[W]e held out [until now], because it kind of hits them the hardest,” said Debbie Harden, package handler who has been with the company for 16 years. She said Easter orders are already starting to come in. “They need us more than they think,” she was quoted as saying.
Meanwhile, the brass at Just Born maintain that though they are “fully committed” to reaching an agreement with current employees and that they will get by without the striking workers. The Morning Call spoke with vice president of corporate affairs Matt Pye who said Halloween and Christmas candy production is already done and Easter production, which happens all year long, “is in good shape.”
So is Easter really in danger? I guess that depends who you trust more: union reps or corporate mouthpieces. Either way, the holiday certainly wouldn’t be the same without staring at a box of Peeps and thinking, I really shouldn’t eat those.