Strike At Steve's Settled; Workers Drop Charges
A three-month strike by employees of Steve's Ice Cream over management practices ended yesterday when the striking workers dropped their charges.
Scott Lewis, attorney for the Steve's Ice Cream Employee's Movement, said yesterday the group will take no further action on its charges of unfair labor practices filed with Massachusetts Labor Relations Commission.
Lewis declined to comment on why the strike has ended.
The striking workers recently stopped picketing the Somerville store because many had left the area or gotten other jobs, Gus Rancatore, the one Steve's employee who did not strike on October 15, said yesterday.
"They just gave in," Joseph Crugnale, one of the Steve's owners, said yesterday.
David Droler, an employee representative for the striking workers, met with Crugnale yesterday afternoon. Crugnale said that he and Droler had reached a mutual understanding and the two "parted friends."
Droler could not be reached for comment.
Crugnale said all of the striking workers have been offered their jobs back.
Gus Rancatore, an employee at Steve's for more than four years, said the strike was "almost like a class conflict." Most of the workers are college kids, and the Crugnales are Italian immigrants, he said. Under the store's previous owner, Steve Herrill, the store had been run in a "co-operative way," with meetings every two to six weeks to discuss management policy, Rancatore said.
When Crugnale and his brother bought the store in August, they ended the practice of scheduled meetings, Rancatore added.
The striking workers were like alumni determined that nothing would change at the good old college," Rancatore said. He termed Crugnole a "relaxed, flexible" supervisor.
"It's still a comfortable place to work," he added.
Thomas C. Hayes '65, an employee of Steve's said in October the management's decision to reduce the number of rest breaks and to fire an experienced employee precipitated the strike. Seven of the eight non-managerial workers at Steve's participated in the strike.
Several employees said in October employee-management relations were once very congenial, but had deteriorated after the original owner, Steve Herrill, sold the store in August to Joseph and Nino Crugnale.
Herrill had offers for the store from the Star Market chain, as well as the Crugnales. Although the Star Market's offer was more than $40,000 over the Crugnales' offer, Herrill said in August that he sold the Somerville store to the Crugnales because he thought they would better preserve the congenial employee management relations.
The employees argued in October before the Massachusetts Labor Relations Committee that the Crugnales committed unfair labor practices by subverting contract negotiations and refusing to bargain. The announcement of the dropping of the charges yesterday signals the end of the strike, Rancatore said.