Mott’s Strike and Facebook – A case study

Mott’s Strike:
May 2010 – September 2010
Williamson, NY

305 hourly workers represented by Retail, Wholesale, and Department Store Union (RWDSU) Local 220 at Mott’s apple juice plant went on strike.

Dr. Pepper Snapple Group, a highly profitable company, demanded large-scale labor concessions from its employees. “Unlike previous battles, where American manufacturers have often sought to cut labor costs by threatening to close plants or move operations to the South or overseas, Dr Pepper Snapple is not making such threats.” Other union workers followed the case closely because if Mott’s workers lost, other profitable companies might have pushed for similar concessions.

Dr. Pepper Snapple Group believed that the Mott’s workers were overpaid compared with other production workers in the Rochester area. The company’s demands included: cutting wages by about $3,000 a year, freezing pensions, ending pensions for new hires, reducing the company’s 401(k) retirement contributions and increasing employees’ costs for health care benefits. Dr Pepper Snapple said it was merely seeking to bring its benefits more in line with those of its other plants.

Strikers expanded picket lines to other companies, including Bowman Apple Products and National Fruit, both in Virginia, and American Bottlers in Chicago. The Virginia plants are co-packing Mott’s and the Chicago plant sent non-union workers to Williamson.  At the Chicago picket lines, Union Pacific train workers have refused to cross picket lines. According to the local, the plants have run out of sugar.

Thirty-four members of the New York City Council sent letters to DPSG President and CEO in support of workers.

Social Media Campaign:
The campaign included a Facebook page, downloadable “tags” that one could paste on to Dr Pepper Snapple Group products, and images that people could upload as their own image on Facebook.  “The campaign was so successful, despite being enjoined in court following a filing by DPS for trademark infringement, that the campaign was featured as part of a panel on social media at the upcoming International Labor Communications Association’s annual convention,held in Washington D.C, on November 19, 2010.  This conference is a gathering of labor press from around the country, featuring an opportunity to share best practices, and learn about new ways to deliver the message of organized labor.”

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