factory workers have ended by agreeing to the candy manufacturers’ original contract terms Tuesday afternoon, according to union officials.
The settlement, decided by a vote of the employees, came during the second day of federal mediation in Oakland.
Of those present, 81 voted in favor of the offer while 61 voted against it, according to Rene Castillo, vice president of the Bakery Workers Union Local 125, which represents American Licorice employees.
Castillo was not pleased with the outcome of the strike.
“I think if we stayed out a little longer, we could have broke them, he said.
“The workers didn’t want to stay out,” Castillo said.
The company issued a written statement, outlining the agreement terms and saying, "We're pleased that all of our Associates have decided to return to work and look forward to their ongoing contributions to our business in the years ahead."
All 178 employees of the Union City factory, where the company’s popular Red Vines candy is manufactured, will return to work, Castillo said.
After several of negotiations, all 178 American Licorice factory workers in protest of what they said was an unfair contract that included increased healthcare costs and a meager raise. Workers picketed 24/7, enduring cold weather, rain and what they say were rude and disrespectful security guards.
The strike gained support from local politicians and to turn away delivery trucks and employee vehicles.
According to a statement from the company issued last month, the company's offer included paying the entirety of the proposed $3,000 family and $1,500 individual health insurance deductibles in 2012, and paying for half of the deductibles in 2013 and 2014. The contract includes a 30-cent retroactive hourly raise for 2011 and 35-cent raises in 2012 and 2013.
According to Castillo, 15 workers had crossed the picket line throughout the month-long ordeal, with four crossing Tuesday morning — the most employees to turn over in a single day.
He said of the four who returned to work, two were machine operators who were capable of running every machine in the factory, which would allow the factory to resume production. He said that weakened morale on the picket line.
Though American Licorice issued a statement last month announcing that production had resumed, employees picketing Monday said that only about two dozen temp workers were hired, which they said was not enough to run the assembly line. They also said it did not sound or smell as if licorice was being made.
According to the company, they began hiring temporary workers on Dec. 7 and have since made some of those temporary positions full-time.
Castillo said workers feared permanently losing their jobs.
“It was a scare tactic, and it worked,” Castillo said.
Union City Patch will update this story as more information becomes available.