Hershey, Union Come to Terms

June 7, 2002 (PLANSPONSOR.com) - Union workers at Hershey Foods will vote tomorrow on a tentative agreement that could end a six-week strike over health benefits.

Neither Hershey nor Chocolate Workers Local 464 would discuss the terms of the agreement, which was announced last night after 11 hours of negotiations. The union represents about 2,800 workers from two plants in Hershey, Pennsylvania.

The company’s last offer prior to the strike called on workers to pay 10% of the cost of their health care coverage, up from 6% currently – a share that would increase to 12% by the end of the four-year contract. It also provided annual pay raises for the workers, who make about $18 an hour on average, according to the union.

Union workers walked off the job April 26 after failing to reach an agreement on the company’s move to have workers pay a larger share of their health insurance costs. The four-year union contract expired on November 4.

Thursday’s talks were the second of the week. Talks initially began on Monday and ran for 21 hours before reaching an impasse. At that point Hershey said it would start to hire temporary replacement workers.

This was the fifth labor stoppage in the 97-year-old candy maker’s history.