After more than 30 consecutive days on strike, factory workers may have finally caught a break.
According to David Chung, business agent for Bakery Workers Union Local 125, company managers have agreed to meet with union officials on Monday, Jan. 9, at the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service office in Oakland.
American Licorice, which runs also has factories in Indiana and Oregon, has yet to comment on the pending meeting.
Though the nature of the meeting was not discussed, Chung said he is hopeful it will lead to a return to the bargaining table.
“We’re happy, but we’ll keep the strike until we settle,” he said.
All 178 employees at the Union City factory went in protest of what they say are . The Union City factory manufactures their popular Red Vines candy.
Despite the strict 24-hour picket schedule and near-freezing chilly temperatures, employees say .
Only seven employees have crossed the picket line to return to work, according to Chung.
Chung said a letter sent from the company last week gave workers a scare and led to picketers demanding a meeting with union leaders. He said the letter notified workers that if they did not return to work, they would be replaced with full-time employees.
Chung said union leaders assured employees at a meeting Wednesday that their jobs were secure and seniority rankings would remain intact if any future negotiations are made.
The workers' strike has received regional attention and .
Meanwhile, American Licorice hired temporary workers and resumed production on Dec. 7 and has since made some of those temporary positions full-time.
In a statement released to Patch Thursday morning, officials confirmed the company began hiring replacement workers on Jan. 3, but that jobs are available for any current employee who wants to return to work.
“Work is immediately available to those associates who walked off their jobs,” the company said.
"We’ve committed to providing comprehensive compensation packages for our associates with improved health care support, increased wages and retirement benefits while contributing to the health of the Union City economy, as we have done for the past forty years," the statement read.
But for the 170 of those factory workers still on the picket line, crossing isn’t an option.
“No way. I’m going to support my co-workers as long as it take,” said Raul Barrientos, 55, who’s worked at the factory for 37 years.
“Nobody likes to be in the cold weather like this,” said Eddie Garcia, 54, an employee of 20 years. “Like everybody, I want to go in but we’re here for a reason.”