Nearly 3,000 Hershey workers go on strike

Saturday, April 27, 2002

HERSHEY, Pa. -- Nearly 3,000 Hershey Foods Corp. chocolate workers went on strike Friday at the nation's largest candy maker, disrupting production of chocolate bars, Kisses and other treats.

The strike affects one-fifth of the work force at Hershey Foods, but the company said it would not interrupt service to its customers. Hershey has been building inventory and cash reserves in case of a walkout.

Contract talks between Hershey and the Chocolate Workers Local 464 broke off Wednesday over health care and wages. No new talks were scheduled.

The labor stoppage is the fifth in the candymaker's 97-year history. The last strike by members of the union local was a three-week walkout in 1980.

Strikers lined both sides of Chocolate Avenue, and truckers honked their horns in a noisy display of solidarity.

"This company's making money hand over fist and there's no reason it can't be shared," said Frankleen Gibson, who works on company air conditioning units. "We're ready and we're going to stand tough. We're not going back in a week or two."

The strike affects only two of the company's three factories in Hershey.

The two factories make such treats as chocolate bars, Hershey's Kisses and chocolate eggs. Many of those products are also made at the company's 12 other plants in the United States, spokeswoman Christine Dugan said.

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