Daily Archives: October 2, 2009

Chicago Man Donates Kidney to A Stranger

I don’t cry easily but the tears were flowing when I watched this story this morning. It may have been because Tom LeClair is my cousin – we grew up together in Chicago.

wbbm0929kidneydonorTom is probably the most selfless person I’ve ever met although he pointed out that he did this in part in memory of our other cousin, Tom Fielding, who gave a kidney to his sister, Jeri, some years back. Tom Fielding passed away a few years later at age 51. I wish I had half the courage of either one of these guys.

I spoke to Tom this afternoon and both he and the kidney recipient are doing well. Maybe Chicago has something to celebrate after all.

Back the Bronx Bakers at Stella D’oro

stellaGood industrial jobs are increasingly hard to come by in the US.  That’s why I hope KH readers will take a moment to click here and see how they can help Stella D’oro bakery workers keep their jobs in the Bronx where they have worked for nearly 80 years.

Here is a summary of the issues at stake:

On August 13, 2008, 136 members of Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 50, employed at the historic Stella D’Oro plant in the Bronx, went on strike to defend their family-supporting wages and benefits.

Stella D’oro’s owner, CT-based private equity firm Brynwood Partners, was demanding wage cuts of up to 25% and unaffordable health care premium increases, among other concessions.  Workers and community allies waged a brave 11-month strike to resist these demands.

In July 2009, the National Labor Relations Board ruled that Stella D’oro had bargained in bad faith and ordered the strikers returned to work with back pay!  On the day workers returned to their jobs, Brynnwood Partners announced its intention to shutter the plant in 90 days.  In September, they announced they would sell Stella D’Oro brand, inventory, and some machinery to NC-base snack-maker Lance, Inc.  Lance said it would move production from the Bronx to a non-union facility.

The Stella D’Oro Biscuit Co. has been in the Bronx since the 1930s.  BCTGM Local 50 has represented the workers at the Bronx plant since the early 1960’s, and has helped build Stella D’Oro into an American icon. Its workers are a cross-section of the vibrant communities of the Bronx.

Stella D’Oro workers enjoy broad support in NY for their cause.  A vibrant support committee of neighborhood residents, union allies, and local community institutions has mobilized with workers since their strike began.  The NY City Council passed a resolution supporting the workers and the NY Daily News has published numerous editorials in support of their cause.