Former Stella D’oro workers star in film


Two years ago Kingsbridge’s “star of gold,” the Stella D’oro factory, closed its doors. 

This month, directors Jon Alpert and Matthew O’Neill released No Contract, No Cookies: The Stella D’oro Strike, a film depicting Stella D’oro employees’ 11-month struggle to negotiate their contracts, which ultimately ended with them losing their jobs. 

No Contract, No Cookies follows the 138, mostly immigrant, workers as they go on strike to avoid wage and benefit cuts planned by the factory’s new owner, Brynwood Partners.

Mr. Alpert said an HBO employee met the strikers while attending the Triangle Shirtwaist Factory memorial and was inspired.

“Sheila was so moved by their story that she told us to come up to the Bronx and cover the strike,” said Mr. Alpert during a phone interview.

Through the film, which premiers on Wednesday, July 6, on HBO2, Mr. Alpert and Mr. O’Neill said they hope to explore the changing nature of manufacturing in New York. 

“Nearly 80 percent of New York manufacturing has been cut in the last several years,” Mr. Alpert said.

“The type of workers that learned how to run factories are gone, it might be too late and we might be dealing with a situation that the knowledge and infrastructure have been exported with the jobs,” he said.

Mike Fillipou, the former shop steward at Stella D’oro, agreed. During a phone interview he recounted a round of layoffs a few weeks ago at Bimbo Bakeries, the factory where he now works. 

 “Manufacturing is closing because of the greed of the owners,” he said.

After the Stella D’oro strike ended the Brynwood Partners was ordered by the National Labor Relations Board to reinstate the workers and restart collective bargaining. Though the workers eventually went back to work, Brynwood announced the sale of the factory to Lance, a snack foods manufacturer, in September 2009. Lance manufacturing relocated Stella D’oro productions to a non-union factory in Ohio, leaving the workers jobless. 

Workers did not receive the happy ending some expected and the film does not try to sugar coat it. 

Stella D'oro factory, Jon Alpert, Matthew O'Neill, No Contract, No Cookies: The Stella D'oro Strike, Mike Fillipou, Lovia Gyarkye
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