Alt: How did things get to this point?
They gave us a final offer on health and medical benefits. Theres a standard in the dairy industry thats already been set with other companies like Wendt, Bison Foods, etc.. Our proposal was that wed get the same thing as all these other dairy workers already have because we basically do the same things, its the same type of job.
So, the company refused and they gave us a lower standard. We told them we didnt think the union would go for it. We put it to a vote and over ninety percent of our workers voted it down. With that, the company implemented their final offer and refused to go back to the table and discuss it. Right now were working without a contract and theyve imposed this final offer, which was already voted down.
Alt: Is that legal?
We feel that theres been some labor violations, so weve filed some charges. Most contracts if they get voted down, normally youd go back to the table. Alt: Or go for an extension of the old contract. Right, and theyve refused to do that
Alt: How many workers are involved ?
About 312, I think.What weve been doing is a lot of leafleting, going to Bison games, and Thursday in The Square and the reason for that is that we just want to inform the community and get some backing from the community and show what this company is doing. Were not looking for a boycott of any product, or a shut down or any thing like that, but what we want to do is let people know, because this could be happening to your friends and family, what this company is doing.
Alt: Is there a danger this could lead to a strike on your part or a lockout on their part?
At this point were not sure. Of course, were trying to avoid a strike at all costs. We wouldnt want the company to force three hundred families out of work. Thats why were doing this for now, just trying to put a little pressure on the company and to get the same recognition that other dairy workers from other companies are getting. Alt: Have you worked with the Coalition for Economic Justice? Not yet.
Alt Sorrento is owned locally, right?
Oh, no. Sorrento is owned by a French conglomerate (Simplot). So yeah, with these other dairy companies the workers didnt have to go anywhere near what weve had to go through to get this contract. By John McMahon
As a proud sponsor of this years Italian Heritage Festival, Sorrento Cheese played up its historic role as a mainstay of Italian cuisine in Buffalo and WNY. However, after being acquired by French conglomerate, Simplot Dairy Group, things have changed.
On the Italian Festivals website, Fred Hermann, Corporate Director of Marketing for Sorrento Cheese was quoted as saying, "No matter how big our company gets well always be deeply involved in this community. We live here and work here."
Unfortunately, this deep involvement in the community does not extend to Sorrentos own workers in Buffalo. Some three hundred local workers have been given the cold shoulder by management as they have tried to work out a basic labor agreement with the company.