Hershey, Union Reach Agreement on New Contract

HERSHEY, Pa. - Hershey Foods Corp. said on Thursday it had reached an agreement with its union on a new contract, nearly six weeks after some 2,700 union workers at two plants walked off the job, Reuters reports. Terms of the deal were not discussed.

Workers have been at odds with the company since their four-year labor contract expired on Nov. 4. They began a strike on April 26, which halted production at two plants accounting for more than a fifth of Hershey's production and threatened to hurt sales as the company ramped up for its critical fall selling season.

The conflict has centered on the company's plan to increase workers' share of health care costs.

"We have addressed all the issues and we feel it is a good settlement for both sides, the company and the union," Robert Oakley, vice president of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers' and Grain Millers' Union, told Reuters. He said a vote by union workers has been scheduled for Saturday.

Company spokesman John Long said Hershey and the union had been trying to strike a balance between needs of the employees and the long-term needs for Hershey's business.

"Today's agreement strikes a healthy balance between the two and will allow us all to return to the task of building a stronger, more competitive Hershey Foods," he said.
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