UNION CITY (CBS SF) — About 175 employees at the American Licorice Company plant in Union City went on strike Monday as a result of a labor dispute over health care, pensions and wages, a union official said.

Donna Scarano of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 125 said contract talks began in August, when the previous labor agreement expired, but talks have broken down despite the efforts of federal mediators.

Scarano said employees voted to go on strike at the end of October but agreed to “give the company another chance” with additional talks in November in hopes of avoiding a strike.

However, those negotiations also were unproductive and employees finally decided to go on strike Monday, she said.

American Licorice spokesman Michael Kelly said in a statement that, “The company’s final proposal to our associates included a pay raise, an improved retirement benefit, and comprehensive health insurance for associates and their families.”

Kelly said, “We have a long-standing and positive relationship with our associates and despite their rejection of our final offer, we’re optimistic that everyone will return to work and the situation will be resolved.”

Scarano said the biggest stumbling block in labor negotiations is health care costs.

She said employees have accepted only minimal pay raises in recent years in return for the company paying all the costs of their health care plan.

Scarano said American Licorice now wants employees to pay $1,500 a year for a health care plan for an individual and $3,000 a year for a family.

She said the company’s employees “make a good product” and are disappointed that an agreement hasn’t been reached so far.

Most of the company’s employees at the Union City plant have worked there for a long time, Scarano said.

She said they work in three shifts around the clock.

Scarano said American Licorice has its headquarters in Bend, Ore., and has another plant in La Porte, Ind.

According to the company’s website, American Licorice’s first factory began in Chicago in 1914 and the company began operations on the West Coast in San Francisco in 1925.

The company moved into a new production facility in Union City in 1970, according to the website.

(Copyright 2011 by CBS San Francisco. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.)

Comments (4)
  1. James says:

    Great, that gives me one more company to boycott. I am boycotting all UNION made goods. Dang, and I really like Red Vines, I was eating them every week, never knew they were Union Made, thanks for the information. Can anyone tell me which NON-Union Car Company makes the car with the most USA produced parts? I will be trading in my GM vehicle soon.

  2. Todd S says:

    The answer for non-union-made automobiles: NONE. Most foreign-named autos made in the USA (Kia Sorento, Toyota Tundra, etc) use more foreign parts than American, and they are not union. All GM/Ford/Chrysler plants are Union. FedEx, UPS, and the US Postal Service are Union.
    In other words, if you don’t want to buy Union, buy Foreign.

    1. Mark says:

      Todd, you really need to research before you spout off. I have a KIA Sorento, assembled in Georgia from 62% American made parts. CHeck the listings for your “American made” cars, most of them aren’t even close to that percentage. The UAW has priced themselves out of work by being greedy, just like these idiots.

  3. Licoricekid says:

    Here is a piece of news moron the mediator who listen to both sides and read
    the contract and told the union workers it’t not a good contract nor is it equal.
    With the high prices of insurance these folks are fighting for their lives.

    U can buy machines for 9 million and cut out 20 jobs and then buy 2 more machines over 13 million and loose another 30 workers and you can’t pay for insurance. Nice try Moron. get a life and learn all the information before opening your trap.

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