Strikers outside Richmond Baking Co.
Workers at Richmond Baking Co. initiated a strike.

ALMA, GA. — Workers at Richmond Baking Co. initiated a strike on Jan. 4, a move that disappointed executives with the maker of cookies, crackers and dessert crumbs.

Richmond Baking said it final offer to the union included what it considered to be “significant wage gains for many employees,” ranging from 40c per hour up to a $1per hour for other employees.

“Richmond Baking Co. offers very competitive wages and benefits, paying some employees as much as $24.05 per hour with benefits and an average wage of $18.92 per hour with benefits,” the company said in a Jan. 4 statement.

The company said its offer also increased shift premium pay and offered additional economic benefits. Richmond Baking said it continues to offer its employees’ health insurance at no premium cost to employees and their families, provided that employees participate in available wellness programs.

“We’re proud of what we’ve provided in our final offer, and Richmond Baking will continue operations and will meet our customers’ needs,” said Bill Quigg, president of Richmond Baking Co.

“We’ve always been able to amicably resolve differences in the past,” he said. “It’s unfortunate that a new local union seems to be taking a different approach.”

About two years ago, the Richmond local of the union was merged into Local No. 1, a local based out of Chicago.

“Workers felt disrespected and unappreciated by the company’s contract offer, especially workers who started before 2005 who wouldn’t receive a wage increase,” said Don Woods, president of Local Union 1 Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union AFL-CIO-CLC. “There’s such a high turnover that workers are putting in an average of 14 hours a day to fill orders, and they can be treated better at fast-food jobs with similar starting wages. Turnover also forces longtime employees to work more hours. The working conditions are horrible. Some have to work 20 hours a day, and then the next day if they come in late, the company wants to reprimand them.”