These are some Frequently Asked Questions about unions, union campaigns and union representation. Click on each section to see a variety of questions and answers about that topic.

To ask your own question, or to see the answers to questions your fellow employees have asked, go here.

Questions about union organizing.
What is a union organizer? Unions generally employ a staff of representatives who function as “organizers.” Organizers are paid by the union to organize (that is, unionize) groups of employees or entire companies.

Am I under any obligation to talk with a union organizer? No. There is absolutely no obligation for you to talk with a union organizer.

The union organizer “promised” me an increase in wages and benefits. Can an organizer guarantee that my wages and benefits will improve under union representation? No. Union organizers are in the business of organizing workers. You can expect them to make promises about wages and benefits—and other issues—to get you to attend a union meeting or sign a union authorization card.   If an organizer promises a particular benefit, ask for that benefit in writing. It is highly unlikely that any organizer will be willing to put in writing any of their promises.

Why would union organizers make promises when, in reality, they are under no obligation to make good on their promises? Unions operate like a business. They generate income through union dues. Union organizers have one task and that is to organize workers, which in turn will provide the union increased income, i.e. more union dues. These organizers may tell you what they think you want to hear to get you to attend union meetings and vote for the union. If a union representative makes promises, ask for those promises in writing.

What are my rights during an organizing campaign and election?
If I signed an authorization card, do I have to vote for the union if there is an election? NO! Even if you signed a card, you can vote however you like in an election. The election is a secret ballot process. You do not sign the ballot and no one will know how you voted unless you tell them.

If I want to attend a union meeting, can I? Yes. It is your choice to attend – or not attend – a union meeting. Our hope is that you will not be interested in such meetings, but it is absolutely your choice and your right to attend union meetings if you want to. However, if you feel you are being threatened, intimidated, or harassed to attend a meeting, you have the choice to let your leader know. Such behaviors may be unlawful and you do not have to tolerate that type of treatment.

Can I oppose the union? Yes! You absolutely have the legal right to oppose the union. You also have the right to let other associates know your opinion and can voice your opinion in appropriate ways. For example, one option is in conversations during break or lunch time, before or after work.

If I want to make flyers to show my support for the company, can I use the copy machine in the manager’s office? The law prohibits a company from assisting your efforts to oppose the union; however, you certainly have the right to actively campaign against the union. If you do choose to campaign against the union, you have to do that without company assistance.

Will I lose my job if I vote for the union? No. We believe that having a third party, including unions, between our employees and leaders is absolutely unnecessary, but where employees have chosen such representation, or been required by law to do so, we will pursue an honest, business-like approach in working with those representatives.

What kind of power does a union have?
Can a union prohibit our company from disciplining an employee who violates company rules? No. All employees are expected to comply with company policy, practice, and work rules. There are standards and expectations for all employees – regardless of whether the company’s employees are organized or union-free.

Can a union have a member of management removed because the union or employees think the manager is unfair? No. The company decides who its leaders are and where they will work, and does so fairly and honestly. Unions do not have a bargaining right over the staffing, assignment or management of supervisory employees.

Can a union guarantee me job security? No. We set the strategic direction for the company – and performance under that plan impacts employment levels, product development and product sourcing – with the long-term goal of returning shareholder value and maintaining global competitiveness. Long-term job security for our employees, in our view, comes when we are able to meet those two goals.

What does it mean for a union to become my “exclusive bargaining representative”? It means the union would become your exclusive agent and spokesman in dealing with the company concerning wages, hours, and other terms and conditions of employment. If the union is ultimately named as the exclusive bargaining representative, the Company will face limitations in “dealing with” individuals given the general bargaining obligation to the union and the legal rules surrounding that process. The employer must deal with the union on all “mandatory subjects of bargaining,” which in practice can restrict individual arrangements or flexibility that the Company and employees may pursue without a certified union. See more about representation and collective bargaining here

How does voting work, and what happens after the election?
Will anyone know how I vote in the election? Not unless you tell them! Under current labor law, the election is a “secret ballot” election conducted by the National Labor Relations Board.

Do I have to vote if there is an election? No, you are not required to vote. However, the outcome of the election could have a tremendous impact on your job and working environment. It is your choice, but if you care about your job and working environment, you should consider voting. 

How is the outcome of the election determined? The outcome of the election is determined by the number of votes actually cast, not the number of employees eligible to vote. That is why your vote is so important. The winner must have a simple majority. That’s 50% plus one of the votes cast. For example, if 100 employees vote, only 51 have to vote for the union for it to be successful in the election, and obtain the right to represent all bargaining unit employees at the facility.

If there is an election, is there a minimum number of employees who must vote for the election results to count? No. A majority of the employees voting determines the outcome. For example, if there are 200 employees in the facility, and only 100 of them decide to vote, the union can win the election if just 51 employees vote for the union. In that scenario, the union then becomes the collective bargaining representative for all 200 employees at the facility. That is why, if you care about the outcome, you should vote in the election. See this page for more details.

If the union wins the election, which employees does it represent? If the union wins the election, it will represent every employee in the bargaining unit who is eligible to vote. Not only does it represent those employees who voted for the union, it also represents those who voted against the union, as well as those who failed to vote. That is why your vote is so important.

If the union wins the election, do I have to join the union? No, but as mentioned above, whether you join the union or not, if the union wins it will be your exclusive representative for labor law purposes. And if you are not in a Right to Work state, the union may try to negotiate with the company to require all employees who work in the facility to join the union or otherwise pay union dues or face termination. At facilities in non-Right to Work states, new employees will usually have have 30-90 days to join the union, or the union can make the company terminate their employment. Virginia currently is a Right to Work state, which means the Company and Union cannot agree on a labor contract provision that requires you to join the union or alternatively pay dues as a condition of employment. State law, however, could change in the future.

Questions about dues, fees and other assessments.
Does it cost money to be a member of a union? Yes. In fact, over a period of time it can cost a great deal of money. Unions survive on the money they receive from their members in the form of dues, fees, fines and assessments. That creates motivation for them to want you to become a member of their union. Union dues vary in amount from union to union. Many unions charge monthly dues equivalent to two hours of pay in exchange for the “service” they provide – collective bargaining and contract administration, among other things you may or may not like. 

What are union dues? Dues are fees you pay, usually on a monthly basis, to “belong” to a union or otherwise have them represent you as part of the bargaining unit. In many cases, the union has the right to automatically raise dues every year—and often does (without employee vote). See more on this page.

How is the amount of union dues established and what would that money be used for? The union determines the amount of dues and fees. The union would also determine how your dues are spent. You should be aware that some of your money could be used to support political candidates of the union’s choice.

What are initiation fees? An initiation fee is the initial cost charged by a union to the employee for the “privilege” of joining a union.

What are union fines? Fines are charged against members by unions for violations of rules of the union constitution and bylaws. For instance, you may be fined for crossing a picket line, failing to attend a union meeting, or for conduct unbecoming a union member. When a union member is found guilty of having committed an offense, most unions “discipline” members by fining them for the offense.

What are assessments? Assessments are the “extra” costs of unionization that employees may be required to pay. They are expenses over and above the payment of normal dues, fees and fines. The most common reasons to charge members assessments are for strike funds, money for political contributions, and to help the union with its operating costs. These fees are not voluntary and must be paid in order to remain a member in “good standing.”

What is “check-off”? “Check-off” is a procedure whereby union dues, fees, fines and assessments are automatically deducted from the employee’s paycheck and given to the union before any wages are paid to the employee. Generally, this is a priority for any union to attain in contract negotiations, and unions have the legal right to “tradeoff” other items, like wages or benefits, in exchange for obtaining an automatic dues deduction process through Company payroll..”

Questions about the collective bargaining.
Is it possible an agreement between the union and the company could result in less wages and benefits than I currently have? Yes. There is absolutely no guarantee that the union will negotiate any improvement in your wages and benefits. In fact, you could get more, you could get the same, or you could get less. If a union organizer promises better wages, ask for the promise in writing. It is highly unlikely that they will give you one because the bargaining process does not involve guarantees – it is a process that involves back-and-forth and the Company must agree to any changes that are included in a potential labor contract.

If the union and the company are not able to agree during bargaining, what will happen? There are two options: (1) leave things the way they are; or (2) strike. Under current law, there is no guarantee that the union and the company will arrive at an agreement and sign a labor contract. It is possible for a union and a company to continue operations without a contract for years.

Can the union “fix” anything or “force” the company to do anything? No. By law, the company does not have to agree to any union demands. The company will, of course, bargain in good faith and attempt to reach agreement but there are no guarantees that agreement will be reached or what the terms of any agreement would include.

Read more about Collective Bargaining here.

Questions about strikes.
If a strike is called, does the company continue to pay wages and benefits to striking employees? No. Once a strike begins, the company does not need to continue your pay for not working. And benefits continuation is subject to the benefits plan practices and terms and may cease within days or weeks of any strike according to those terms. Once a strike is over, you are not guaranteed any back-pay for the time you were out on strike. In addition, it is possible that accrual of credited service will be suspended during periods of strike activity, based on existing practices and plan terms.

Can I collect unemployment compensation while on strike? When striking over economic conditions (wages and benefits), many states, including Virginia, do not allow employees to collect unemployment compensation.

Does the union provide strike benefits? Some unions provide strike benefits while others do not. Providing strike benefits is purely at the union’s discretion. The amount of strike pay is also at the union’s discretion but is usually a portion of employee’s normal pay. 

If I go out on strike, can I be replaced? Yes. If the union calls an economic strike (over wages and benefits), you can be permanently replaced by the company. This means that when the strike is over, your return to work is based on available openings and a preferential recall list that can be impacted by the hiring of any replacement workers.

Can I come to work if I decide I do not want to strike anymore? Yes, provided you have not been permanently replaced, you can always choose not to strike and return to work. The union does not like it when union members “cross the picket line”, but it is your personal choice to work or strike. In addition, the union may fine you for “crossing the picket line” unless your membership in the union is cancelled before crossing.

For more about Strikes, see this page.

Can we get rid of the union if we decide representation isn't working?
If employees vote in a union and we change our minds, can’t we just tell them to leave? No. the legal process to remove a union is more complicated and often blocked by legal bars or challenges. If you select a union to be your bargaining representative, that union does not have to leave your facility just because you change your mind. In fact, employees will have to wait at least a year after a union is voted in before they can even try to remove the union (a process called “decertification”). The process of decertification requires another election. To be successful, the majority of those voting will have to agree that the union needs to go.  In some cases, unions strongly oppose decertification efforts by employees by filing unfair labor practice charges to block the election or void its results.

If employees want to decertify a union, can the company help with the process and legal fees? No. By law, the company will not be able to help you with the decertification process or legal expenses associated with decertification. Employees would be responsible for navigating the decertification process without Company support.

Questions about right to work.

What does Right to Work mean? In a “Right to Work” state, no person can be required to maintain union membership or pay union dues as a condition of employment. In other words, the union cannot demand that an employee be fired for failing to pay union dues. Nonetheless, if a union is voted into a facility, all employees in the bargaining unit are represented by the union – even those employees who choose not to be union members. As a result, the question of unionization is an important one — even in a Right to Work state.

If I am in a Right to Work state, why should I care about unionization or a union election, if I cannot be forced to join a union? There are many reasons why you should care.   First, if your facility is unionized all employees in the bargaining unit are represented by the union – even those employees who choose not be union members.  There will be limits on what you can resolve with managers directly given the collective bargaining obligations imposed by law. Second,  you should know that unions have lobbied Congress to take away all Right to Work legislation, and they may do that in Right to Work states as well – like in Michigan that recently repealed its Right to Work law. 

Questions about the rerun election.
Why did we settle the claims, not fight them if we think we are right? Our decision is based on our overriding principle of what is best for the plant and the employees. Extending this period of uncertainty for what could be several more years was not in all of our best interests. The best outcome was the one that allowed our employees to have their votes counted and express their desire to not be represented by a union as they did in March of 2022.

You talk about timing – how long could this take if we went to court? That is hard to predict with certainty. But we expect at least another year, but longer is likely. The first step is an administrative hearing within the NLRB system. That would involve months of preparation and time for a number of supervisors and managers. And if either party disagreed with some or all of the decision, both could appeal to the courts. We would probably continue in this limbo for years.

Could we settle some parts of the case but fight in court on other parts of the claims? No. A settlement with the NLRB is an all or nothing proposition. The Board’s very clear practice is to resolve all issues if there is a settlement.

The posting contains some strong language, what does that all mean? The posting or something similar to it is a requirement of any NLRB settlement. It identifies rights that employees have under the law and the Board’s rules. The specifics in our posting links to the claims that were made previously. The specifics of any notice would vary from case to case depending on what was claimed.

Could we go through another election and have to do this all over again? Theoretically, yes. But the Company plans to take proactive steps to avoid a repeat of this situation and to take steps to minimize the chances for new charges to be filed.

Ask your question here.

Use the form at left to anonymously submit any question you may have about the union, the election or labor unions in general.

We do not track or attempt to track your identity or any personal information. However, your question and our answer may appear on this page below. Any personal information you may provide will not appear on this page.

Scroll down to see the answers to posted questions.

Why are you resorting to disgusting union busting techniques?

Answer:  We are not “union busting” —— Hershey Stuarts Draft is not unionized nor has it ever been since the plant opened 40 years ago.  Hershey has chosen to provide education on the topic of unionization, including the law, the process  and the rights of employees. Including the right of employees to refrain from participating in union activities if they want.

It is completely legal to provide facts in the form of unaltered documents, government postings, financial documents, the Company’s position on unionization and statements of fact.

By the way, when employees of a union try to organize (yes, that happens)  it is perfectly legal for a union to provide education to their employees who may be considering unionization/representation, AND THERE ARE MANY CASES IN WHICH THIS HAS OCCURRED, where unions attempted to avoid third party representation for their employees.

Below is a list of such cases, including a case in which the BCTGM itself campaigned against the union trying to organize their employees.

If it is legal for a union to provide education and facts about unionization to their employees who are considering union representation, then WHY is it “disgusting” for Hershey or any other companies to do the same thing?

Case: 8-RC-16153 | BCTGM Local Union #19 AFLCIO Paul LaBuda President
Union Information
Office & Professional Employees

Case: 27-RD-255043 | United Food & Commercial Workers, Local 368A Jack Caldwell President
Union Information
Teamsters
Local: 483, 983

Case: 21-RD-242912 | UFCW Local 135 Bruce Todd Walters
Union Information
Federation of Agents & International Representatives

Here is a list of some Unions that organize Union Employees:

  • Union of Union Organizers
  • Southern Organizers United
  • Association Of Union Staff Employees
  • United Professional Organizers North Texas Chapter
Not a question, more of a thank you I for one would like to thank you for having the opportunity to hear from the national labor board team you have brought in. I really feel like you're being very transparent about what this decision could mean for us and what repercussions the union brings with it. Thank you very much.

Answer:  Glad to hear that you find the education sessions being led by our consultants are beneficial. Just to be clear, however, the consultants are not from the federal government’s National Labor Relations Board. They are highly trained and experienced labor law experts.

Why do we have to use vacation for 2 days when you are out sick for a whole week? Or use 5 days if you don't have sick time. Vacation should not have to be used for sick time. Why can't we use unpaid?

Answer:  Consistent with the practice of most employers, during a leave of absence (sickness or personal leave) a form of paid time is required to be used to the extent that it is available. For those who are using Short Term Disability, paid leave benefits begin following a 5-day waiting week.

Why not bring back the old tier 1 pay and the Is pension you don't want a union then you got to look at what got it to this point the pay tier the Pension the point system look back years ago and you had people lining up to work here now there is no line

Answer: 

Wages: We’ve had a practice of doing local wage surveys annually to ensure that our Tier 2 pay remains highly competitive with the local market pay rates in Augusta County for similar job types. For example, in 2021, we increased the off-shift differential pay for 2nd shift, 3rd shift and night shift as a result of a local wage survey.

Pensions: Across the US, most companies have frozen or eliminated pension programs. Hershey has an enhanced 401(k) program for those employees who are not eligible for the pension program. This enhanced 401(k) program is more competitive than most every employer in the county for employees who are not pension eligible.

Attendance System: We recognize that our attendance policy needs some work. Based on employee feedback, revision work has been going on for a while, but please realize that we are limited in what we can legally do at this time with an NLRB election pending. We think that the points system is to our employees’ benefit. Points systems are widely used in other Hershey locations as well as with many other employers in Augusta County because they offer a consistent method of tracking attendance without favoritism or bias.

Inconsistent policies are a reason we are at this point. Take for instance a few years ago it was decided all day shift managers group leaders and relief managers needed a college degree. Managers were moved to the off shifts, relief managers and group leaders were removed from their positions. Now it seems that decision is no longer in effect.

Answer:  The Stuarts Draft Plant supports leveraging internal promotions as a successful way to staff many roles within plants and beyond. Both degreed and non-degreed internal candidates have been promoted to roles of increasing responsibility in the Stuarts Draft plant. Over the last 3 years, we have promoted at least 20 internal candidates into leadership roles. More than 50% of these candidates did not have degrees. Understandably, the Company is looking to build talent for future roles. In some instances, depending on the nature of the role, having a degree may help to better situate employees to be successful when applying for advancement opportunities. As a plant, we will succeed by having a mixture of internal, external, degreed and non-degreed individuals in our leadership and professional roles.

By the way, we work hard to establish fair and well-thought-out policies. Sometimes, as we see how the policies play out and new developments occur, we find the need to modify policies. Maintaining a union-free environment allows us the flexibility to update policies as the need occurs, which we view as a benefit for all of us.

If I get a booster Covid vaccine which you are recommending I get, do I get an unpaid day time off? Or paid time off?

Answer:  Currently, there is no incentive payment for booster shots. We have recorded dates of anyone who has shared a booster card. We have given people up to 2 days to recover from the booster, if necessary, with no “points”. Any time off is excused and unpaid.

Why have there been so many changes made to the bid rules over the last few years? There has been at least 5 changes made, all making it worse for the employees on the floor. Was this just to make someone upstairs job easier?

Answer:  No, any enhancements to the job bidding system have been for the purpose of decreasing the amount of time it takes to award the job to the proper bid winner and to decrease the time spent waiting to physically move into the new job. Each change over the past few years has been made with that goal in mind.

Do managers and salary keep there bonuses when production loses theirs?

Answer:  All plant employees, salary and hourly workers are measured on the plant’s ability to deliver results to target expectations for key performance metrics.  Our success as a plant and individuals is driven by the daily actions each and every one of us takes to work safely, deliver quality, reduce waste, and make more moments of goodness for our consumers.

Can we have our scissors back now that Dennis is gone?

Answer:  No, Several years ago there was a company-wide initiative to tether tools wherever possible to reduce People and Food Safety incidences.  Unfortunately, some of our co-workers experienced injuries from tools like scissors carried in their pockets.  Another example was a broken-up pair of scissors that came through onto one of our Sweco screens.

If a union is formed will Hershey act like Walmart and close the plant or lay off the workers like Kellogg's did?

Answer:  Plant closures and lay-offs are based on plant performance against key measures, comparison to other plants making similar products, and demand.  Union plants and union-free plants can be closed or have layoffs based on those factors.

Will Hershey be required to pay royalty on the pounds of candy that is being manufactured to the union?

Answer:  No, the Company does not pay any money to the union.  The union is funded by the money it collects from the employees it represents in the form of dues, fees, assessments or any other payments required by the union.

Why do you have to use vacation time when you are off sick for a week. I know you have to use sick days first. Why don't you have a choice to use unpaid time for the remainder of the week. Should not be told when you have to use vacation for company benefit.

Answer:  Plant policy, in compliance with the provisions of the Family and Medical Leave Act requires an employee using an FMLA leave, whether continuous or intermittent, to use any form of paid leave that is available prior to going into an unpaid leave status. Such forms of paid leave include sick days, vacation days or short-term disability (if approved).

Can we do away with the holiday pay tied to absence. My holiday pay is earned benefit. If I take off a day it’s my point. I should be able to manage both independently without need for company making up rules about.

Answer:  Vacation is an earned benefit because it is based on years of service while Holiday Pay is a conditional benefit we receive when we meet the requirement of working the days before and after the Holiday.  There is a team looking at time-off and absence policies to see what can be simplified with less rules around usage.

Why is it that production never miss breaks or lunch but maintenance will miss their breaks and lunch to get equipment and or lines back up and running. This always seems to get overlooked.

Answer:   We do not expect mechanics or anyone else to miss a break or lunch and encourage them to not do so.  Their dedication and decision to delay taking a break to get equipment running helps all of us achieve our common goals.  Production areas typically have a relief person that allows the break rotation to continue.

If a union is so bad for workers than why did Hershey go out of it's way to hire a union buster to create this website to try and convince workers form a union?

Answer:  This website was created to share facts and answer questions

Maintenance continues to use the side door instead of the main entrance??

Answer:  The side door can be used as an exit, but only used as an entrance for Emergencies and Deliveries.  If we observe it being used for other reasons it should be reported quickly so it can be addressed.

Why are people allowed to get FMLA once put in the program and use it as a safety net? It is happening more and more and it is very discouraging for employees who are following the rules and keeping there attendance in check. It also kills moral to see someone take FMLA for 5 - 13 weeks and then come back and receive a perfect attendance award.

Answer – Thank you for your question:

The Family Medical Leave Act (“FMLA”) is a federal law.   An employee must meet eligibility requirements, including the reason for the unpaid leave, as established under the FMLA.   If the employee meets this eligibility criteria, then the employee must be afforded with job protection.   The duration of an FMLA leave can last up to 12 weeks in a rolling calendar year. FMLA leave time can be taken on a continuous or intermittent basis.

Perfect Attendance awards are given only to employees who actually achieve perfect attendance for a 12-month period of time.  If an employee uses vacation time to cover FMLA leave time, the employee may still be eligible for Perfect Attendance awards. However, it is rare that an employee would have enough vacation time available to fully cover their FMLA time, if the employee uses all or nearly all of their FMLA leave.  It is unlikely that an employee who needs to use a significant majority of their FMLA time will qualify for a Perfect Attendance Award.

Is there a chance if the union is voted in that the plant could be closed?

Answer:  The future of any plant, union or non-union, is based on its performance and competitiveness against its key measures and also compared to other plants making similar products and serving similar markets, as well as overall economic/market factors.  This means that union plants and union-free plants can be closed or have layoffs based on those factors.  The fact that this can occur in unionized plants is evidenced by the number of CBAs that have provisions dealing with plant closings and layoffs.

Why did managers quit giving out work logs? We do different jobs during the week and safety and QA training. We would like to know what we are getting payed.

Answer:  Several years ago we stopped automatically printing the timesheets for everyone as a result of employee feedback.  At that time employees were encouraged to speak with their supervisor if they wanted one printed.  Please see your supervisor if you would like a printed copy of your timecard.

How is our plant going to keep up with rising inflation. From October 2020 to 2021 inflation grew 6.2% and is expected to go much higher by end of the year. Bonuses are not the answer as they are taxed much higher and do not compound hourly rate.

Answer:

We routinely evaluate and benchmark employee offerings, including all compensation levers, to ensure our wages and rewards are aligned with the market. 

Timing:  Our annual pay review occurs in February, but there are times (such as the recent investments in $1/hour shift differential and $1/hour flex trainer rates) when we pull focused increases forward and ahead of the annual cycle.

Have the rules around bidding for posted jobs while on LOA changed? Am I eligible to bid on posted jobs while on FMLA or leave of absence?

Answer:  The rules related to bidding on posted jobs while on FMLA or Leave of Absence (LOA) have not changed.  If you are on leave, bid for a job, and are next to be offered the position, you will be offered the position provided you are eligible to bid (following attendance/discipline/commitment period/new hire probation guidelines) and you’re physically capable of performing the essential functions of the job at the end of the posting period and award period, with or without reasonable accommodation.

If on an extended leave, the reasonableness of accommodation may include how soon you will return to work.

Will the vacation week purchase be available as a benefit for the 2022 benefit year?

Answer: Yes, of course. There have been no discussions about any changes to this benefit.

Hi

Answer: Hello, please feel free to ask a question, and thank you for checking out the website!

Why are you backing away from a Q&A TOWN HALL MEETING WITH THE BCTG? What are you afraid of. Sounds to us like you are being told what to say when answering our questions. Wow! if this company is so anti Union then meet with them and discuss our concerns along with your concerns.

Answer:  For over 40 years Hershey has valued its ability to talk directly with our employees at Stuarts Draft, working together to identify issues and solve problems that have made our plant a leader in manufacturing.  We value our current direct relationship with our employees and don’t believe inserting a third-party union that might change that relationship will help our plant move forward.

The idea of a meeting with the union, or some sort of “debate” is a standard union tactic, especially when the union might be having trouble getting employees to listen to and buy their message.

Given the NLRB’s limitations on what employers can lawfully say while organizing is ongoing, compared to the lack of restrictions on unions, it frankly is not feasible to have a meaningful discussion or debate with the Union, and the union knows that.

In any event, we’d rather continue having direct conversations with our employees, and especially as we have small group meetings with our teams over the coming weeks.

We wish every Stuarts Draft employee a happy and enjoyable holiday season!

If a union comes in, how does that affect the relationship between salary and hourly folks?

Answer:  A Collective Bargaining Agreement (CBA) negotiated between the parties is at the heart of the relationship between the union and the company. This legally binding document governs how the Company interacts with bargaining unit employees with respect to terms and conditions of employment.  Salaried managers will have to become very knowledgeable about the CBA as part of doing their job.

So if a union is voted in are we gonna lose our premium pay some of us want to work the hours because we like the pay

Answer: No one can guarantee the outcome of collective bargaining, what we can tell you is at this time you have your premium pay.

If the plant gets a union does it mean everyone is a member?

Answer: All hourly employees could potentially be included in the bargaining unit

Employees are being ignored by the Company here on this website. We ask questions and they are not showing up. Shame on Hershey!!! Union YES

Answer:  Many of the questions we are receiving have similar themes or have been brought up and answered through Snack n Chats.  Responses are published in a handout and provided via the monitors as soon as available. 

If you feel your question has not been answered please repost.  We do ask that inquiries are in the form of a question and not a statement or comment.

How long does it take to post a response on these questions so if we ask one we know when to come back for the answer?

Answer: Our goal is to respond to most questions within 24 hours, however, some questions do require some more time to properly consider and respond accurately.

With Hershey operating two plants that are unionized, why does plant leadership not want a union in the Stuarts Draft plant?

Answer: We have created a special environment and culture here at one of the most important Hershey plants in the world.  To be clear, we do not want a union at Stuart’s Draft as bringing a union into the mix could mean that employees might lose their control and their ability to communicate directly with their supervisors and collaborate to make decisions impacting daily work-life.

If upstairs is so big on safety why can the hallways look the way they do? They are so overcrowded to the point a fork lift and person cant be in the halls at the same time.

Answer:  Safety is the top priority for the plant.  Items should not be stored in the hallways impeding pedestrian and Forklift traffic.  Currently work is being completed to remediate congestion by increasing trailers in the roasted peanut rotation, limiting peanut storage along the aisleway to one row, and changing packaging storage practices at the south end of the plant.  If you observe an unsafe condition please bring it to your supervisor or Business Unit Leaders attention so actions can be taken to correct it.

What are you doing to keep current employees? You keep saying we have a “competitive wage” which is almost non-existent anymore. And you are pushing bonuses to NEW employees. So what incentive do your current employees get?

Answer: While we have offered sign-on bonuses for new hires, we also consistently review wage and benefit benchmarks for all current employees.  Most recently, we announced a shift differential of +$1.00/hour for employees working on 2nd and 3rd and 12-hour night shifts.   Additionally, we are in the process of establishing an additional $1/hour for employees while they are training others.

We used to have an ask it box in cafeteria that we could anonymously ask questions that we didn’t feel comfortable asking in person. The question asked and an answer would be posted for everyone to see. This was removed, then put back up for a while. When it was put back up, there was a rule added that only positive comments would be looked at or questions of would this be a Breyer way to do this. By limiting questions that could be asked, this severely limited a good form of communication. The ask it box could be put back into use with no limitations, expanding communication and would not cost the company any money.

Answer: The “ask it” box was removed over five years ago after food items from the cafeteria were put into the box and it routinely needed to be cleaned out.   In place of this, we have several methods available that support our goal of fostering two-way communication including:

  1. Share your concerns and questions with your supervisor/leader/HR
  2. Submit a policy or medical question in lock box outside the HR door
  3. Participate in a monthly Snack & Chat meeting
  4. Reach out to the concern line via phone or email
If everything you are saying is true, will you allow a Q&A town hall for the employees? During this town hall, let Union Representatives give their response also.

Answer: We always encourage open discussion and dialogue between our employees and our leadership teams.  That is how we built Stuarts Draft and it will continue to be our approach going forward.  Part of this philosophy is always welcoming questions from all employees.  Our employees are the best source to express their concerns and work with management to get them addressed.  These are internal discussions that have never involved an outside third party and involving outsiders does not add value to these ongoing internal conversations. 

We know our two-way communications remain essential to a productive work relationship which is why the plant continues to hold daily shift meetings and monthly “snack & chat meetings.”  Because of COVID, we stopped having BU meetings, but we believe it is time to start having them again.  BU meetings are being scheduled over the next few weeks.  Together, these different meetings should give all our Stuarts Draft employees multiple opportunities to share their concerns and ask important questions you have for your leaders.

What is Hershey doing to get their current employees time off? Other than bringing in new hires that hershey can’t keep.

Response:  In addition to a massive effort to hire and train new employees, a Continuous Operating Schedule (COS) is being implemented on some production lines and departments.  A COS is a 12-hr schedule designed to have much less overtime as a 2-2-3 schedule, having only 8 hours of OT required every 2 weeks and a long weekend off every 2 weeks.  Additionally, employees have the ability to exercise the extended shift coverage now for weekdays as well as weekends, allowing employees to ask their counterparts on the adjacent shifts to cover them via 12-hour shifts to allow for time off when needed.

Why now after all these months do we have a in person meeting? We just had a quarterly meeting virtual last month.

Response:  Proper communication is important to us.  COVID protocols that continue to change, have led us to trying different methods of communication.  Although it was our hope that virtual quarterly meetings would be a good communication tool, we learned in Snack & Chats and monthly Front Line Leader meetings that key messages were not being received by all employees.

I have a question , not concerning the Union Topic, but if I had an ask it box I would put it in there. If no players are allowed to use the East exit door why is it OK for HR and a chosen few few to use this door. Everyone should go through the main entrance.

Answer: We hear your concern and agree that there should be a change in the policy with that exit, we will be provisioning that door only for use of deliveries and emergencies in the coming days. The door will have a sign acknowledging the proper usage and access controls

I understand that in this economic environment we need to offer sign on bonuses but what are you doing to retain the employees we have? I'm sure you will agree the best part about this plant is the people. My favorite part of coming to work is seeing my amazing co workers. Yet, every week I hear that someone moved on to another place. We may be able to fill their position but we can't replace the experience these people brought to the plant.

Response:  Reducing attrition, a current challenge at all of our Hershey plants, is a key component to the success of the plant.  The majority of people who provided us feedback regarding their decision to leave, did so due to a lack of time off rather than pay.  With that in mind, it appeared money would not be seen as a valuable solution, however that is still being considered.  We continue to focus on attracting, hiring and training new employees to provide more time off for our tenured, skilled operators.  A job fair was held at a local hotel on Saturday, October 16.  There were more than 400 people to apply and be interviewed.  Once onboarded and trained, this should provide more time off when requested and reduce turnover.  We remain open to your suggestions on other ways we can retain skilled operators.

When you changed our breaks from 10,30,10. You knew the whole plant didn’t go by it. It’s not an abuse of a company policy if the management knows of it, Or is it? The management either knew or weren’t good managers. So why pick on only production? Maintenance takes longer and they ride the clock at the end of the shift.

Response: Breaks are designed to provide all employees an appropriate rest period away from their work area. Last year we were hearing from several people from lines that are further away, that they weren’t getting enough time to take an appropriate break under the 10/30/10 break schedule. Since the implementation of the 30/30 break schedule in all business units in September 2021, we’ve heard from several people that they would have preferred to have their choice considered before implementation. There is a team working on a way to allow a vote to determine what break schedule works best for each BU (or area within a BU or dept), to allow for appropriate rest periods. You should hear something further in the next few days.

A big issue that makes no sense to many inside and outside of the plant is the fact that we are offered paid sick days that are as much of a hindrance as they are a help. Being penalized for using a benefit makes it no real benefit whatsoever. However, like several other issues, it has been brought up time and again with zero logical response from management. It affects the safety of the workforce as well as adding to the negatives of an already horrible point system. Employees should at least have an option of having an unpaid non penalized day off or a paid and penalized sick day... Is the company willing to at least give some active thought to this issue?
Response:  Paid, chargeable sick time came about 11-12 years ago as a way to get the STD waiting week partially paid. In general, when used to cover a STD waiting week, paid sick days are not chargeable because they are covered by FMLA.  Outside of FMLA, these days are chargeable. The plant has requested that employees vote on converting paid sick days into unpaid permission days (which are not chargeable). Employees have voted 2 times on this proposal in the last 5 years. Both times, the majority of employees voted to keep the paid, chargeable sick days. The most recent vote occurred in November 2020. Based on recent Snack and Chat feedback, some employees would like to have an opportunity to choose. We are checking with the IT and Payroll departments at corporate to understand if we are able to program this time into the payroll system on an individual choice basis. We will provide an update when more information is available.
 
Additionally, we have been exploring options to provide some additional, flexible time off for those who are working considerable amounts of overtime.  Look for this update to come shortly.
Dennis said we got a $1 shift differential, isn’t it actually .75? So, if I work first shift I don’t get anything. Please explain how that’s a raise.

Response: Shift differentials are designed to provide an incentive for those to work on an off-shift.  Recently we learned that our shift differentials were no longer market competitive which prompted a review of shift differentials company-wide.  All U.S. Hershey plants moved to $1/hr shift differential to be competitive with other employers.

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