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September 29, 2016

Striking Peeps workers will return to Pennsylvania factory

Weeks after walkout, contract negotiations still ongoing

Nearly 400 workers who went on strike at the Bethlehem candy factory that manufactures Peeps and other popular candy products will return to work on Friday without a new labor agreement.

The leadership of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) Local 6 at Just Born Inc. announced the decision to its members Thursday evening in a post on Facebook.

The union went on strike after turning down the company's last offer in early September. The union said that Just Born — makers of Mike and Ike, Goldenberg's Peanut Chews, Teenee Beenee jelly beans and Hot Tamales — had proposed to eliminate workers' pension plans, increase their share of health insurance contributions and offer substandard market wage increases.

Workers voted to authorize a strike on Sept. 2 "to maintain the benefits and standard of living they had earned over decades of service," the union said at the time.

Just Born, a family run company founded in New York City in 1923, moved to Bethlehem in 1932. The BCTGM Local 6 has represented the plant workers since the 1950's.

"This will prevent all employees from losing their benefits during these long drawn out negotiations," said Anthony Downing, leader of the union, in a statement to employees. "Thank you for your strength and determination."