Poetry from Steve Bloom


Tribute to
Stella D'Oro Strikers


The workers of the Stella D'Oro bakery in the Bronx, New York City, went on strike in 2008, protesting demands by new owners of the company for drastic cuts in wages and benefits. They were on strike for more than a year, until the summer of 2009 when they won a favorable ruling from the National Labor Relations Board. The company was ordered to allow all the strikers to return to work under the terms of their old contract and to negotiate in good faith with the union. The result: The company announced that it would sell the plant. In November, 2009, the Stella D'Oro bakery was closed, production and equipment moved to a non-union facility in Ohio.


The following poem by Steve Bloom was written for the "Poetry of Resistance" event, sponsored by the Activist Poets' Roundtable in New York City in October, 2009, where three Stella D'Oro strikers were honored guests. It was also read at the final rally held by the strikers at the plant in November.





  You dwarf the words of the poet: you,

  the warriors of Stella D'Oro.

  For the best I might ever do

  is recount this story which your deeds

            have already written.


  The end, it seems, was composed by others—

  who have more power but less humanity.

  A toast, therefore, to all still holding

  heads high, proud of their humanity.

  For this is the common cause any poet

  might share with those who fight

            for justice.


  Each one of you will always have

  your humanity: the many-thousand acts,

  small and large, of sacrifice and sharing,

  the comradeship, the sheer magnitude of what

            you have achieved.


  Not one crossed the picket line. No,

            not one.


  For these things can never be taken away

  no matter how much equipment

  is dismantled, moved to another state—

  just as the poet will always

  have the written word, even if

  our world might not be ready yet

            to listen.


  It seems you spoke too soon, you

  the warriors of Stella D'Oro,

  before our world was ready to listen.

  Still, I refuse to lose heart, assert

  that one day the bosses and billionaires

  will spend a little time of their own

  on the unemployment line—after

  the working people of New York City

            have taken control.


  And then we will turn that old building

  in the Bronx (you know, the one that used to be

  the Stella D'Oro bakery) into a must-see

  destination, marked on every

  tourist map, a shrine which pilgrims

  can visit in their millions to learn,

  remember, offer a tribute

  to your struggle—writing, thereby,

  an alternative ending to the story

            of Stella D'Oro.


  And the poem that you have composed for us

  during this strike year of 2008/2009 will touch

  their hearts as each one listens to its words—

  overflowing with your humanity, the many-thousand

  acts of sacrifice and sharing, the comradeship,

  the sheer magnitude of what one,



  work-place was able to achieve

            and finally understand.


  Yes, each one of them will,