CHICAGO — Members of the BCTGM International Union now are striking at five Nabisco plants after Mondelez International, Inc., which owns the Nabisco brand, in February announced plans to close two plants in the United States. Members of Local 42 in Norcross, Ga., on Aug. 23 went on strike, joining other union workers who went on strike earlier in August in Portland, Ore.; Aurora, Colo.; Richmond, Va.; and Chicago.
The BCTGM International Union represents workers in the bakery, confectionery, tobacco and grain milling industries in the United States and Canada. The union and Chicago-based Mondelez disagree over whether Mondelez is sending jobs to Mexico.
“Nabisco workers in all five locations are saying strong and clear: Stop exporting our jobs to Mexico and end your demands for contract concessions,” said Anthony Shelton, president of BCGTM International, on Aug. 23. “The BCTGM will take all appropriate action necessary in order to reach a contract settlement that treats Nabisco workers fairly and equitably.”
The strike comes after Mondelez International on Feb. 4 said it would close biscuit baking plants in Fair Lawn, NJ, and Atlanta later this year. No US jobs will go to Mexico related to the Atlanta and Fair Lawn closures, according to Mondelez. Instead, production will shift to other Mondelez-owned and -operated plants in the United States and US-based external manufacturing. Production at an Oreo manufacturing “Line of the Future” and Oreo cookie grind production in Fair Lawn will shift to a Mondelez biscuit plant in Richmond.
“Our goal has been — and continues to be — to bargain in good faith with the BCTGM leadership across our US bakeries and sales distribution facilities to reach new contracts that continue to provide our employees with good wages and competitive benefits, including quality, affordable health care, and company-sponsored enhanced thrift investment 401(k) plan, while also taking steps to modernize some contract aspects which were written several decades ago,” Mondelez International said.
Negotiations are underway for new collective bargaining agreements. A Mondelez offer made to the union committee in July included no change to health care benefits for current employees, annual wage increases, a ratification bonus, an increase to the 401(k) match and an increase to the company-provided short-term disability benefits. In the offer, bakeries would have alternative work schedules on select high-demand lines, alternating three to four days per week to enable better work/life balance. Sales distribution facilities would have alternative work schedules with up to five employees in each branch working a Tuesday-Saturday work schedule. The offer also included revised overtime rules, paying premiums to employees on the sixth and seventh day who work their scheduled hours per week, and a four-year term for new contracts.
Union members in Portland were the first to go on strike.
“After years of Nabisco closing bakeries and moving thousands of BCTGM jobs to Mexico and threatening to move even more jobs to Mexico, our members are saying, ‘We’ve had enough and we’re not taking it anymore,’” Mr. Shelton said on Aug. 10. “For more than a year throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Nabisco workers in Portland and other locations around the country have been working long, hard hours, day in and day out, to produce Nabisco products for American families. Nabisco’s response to these loyal, hardworking employees has been to close two more bakeries in Fairlawn, NJ, and Atlanta, ship 1,000 more good, middle-class jobs to Mexico, and demand major contract concessions from the workers. Nabisco is making record profits, but still this company wants to squeeze more out of its workers.”
Mondelez International has activated a business continuity plan at sites where employees are on strike and is committed to supplying snacks to retailers and consumers, according to the company.