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Union withdraws election petition at Stuarts Draft Hershey plant

A yard sign advertising anti-union sentiments in Stuarts Draft in 2022.
Randi B. Hagi
A yard sign advertising anti-union sentiments in Stuarts Draft in 2022.

More than two years after they began, unionization efforts at the Hershey plant in Stuarts Draft have idled. WMRA's Randi B. Hagi reports.

The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, or BCTGM, has been in a stand-off with the Hershey Chocolate Company of Virginia for more than two years, after a failed vote in March of 2022 and charges of illegal union-busting and retaliation against a union sympathizer. Those charges ended with Hershey settling with the sympathizer and agreeing to throw out the previous election results, and let workers hold another vote without interference.

The re-run election was scheduled for the end of January. Email exchanges between BCTGM, Hershey, and the National Labor Relations Board obtained by a Freedom of Information Act request show that the union officially withdrew its petition for an election on January 18th. John Price, the union's director of organization, told WMRA that the company's previous actions continue to have a chilling effect on workers, and the union decided to hold off on an election they likely couldn't win at this time. He said they will continue to meet with and educate workers.

Randi B. Hagi first joined the WMRA team in 2019 as a freelance reporter. Her writing and photography have been featured in The Harrisonburg Citizen, where she previously served as the assistant editor; as well as The Mennonite; Mennonite World Review; and Eastern Mennonite University's Crossroads magazine.
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