North American IUF Affiliates rally at Mondelez shareholder meeting

IUF Global Mondelez Union Network

mondelez

On May 17, members from North American IUF affiliates BCTGM and UFCW rallied in advance of the Mondelez shareholder meeting in Lincolnshire, Illinois to show their commitment to defending quality employment at the company they have helped to build. Over 18 labour organizations were present to express their support; Letters of solidarity from IUF affiliates were also read out to rally participants.

A smaller group of IUF affiliates who attended the shareholder meeting spoke out against the destructive direction in which management has taken the company, urging a more long-term and sustainable strategy for the future. This group supported the shareholder resolution submitted by the national trade union center AFL-CIO calling for measures to mitigate the impact of any future plant closures, an experience all too familiar to Mondelez workers in the US and around the world.

Mondelez recently moved over 500 production jobs from the Nabisco factory in Chicago to Salinas,Mexico.
See more photos of the event here.

Fight for Nabisco Jobs in Chicago!

BCTGM International Union

DigitalDay_SaveDate_EMAIL

The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers Workers International Union ( BCTGM) has been deeply committed to fighting the exploitation of workers by Mondelēz International. Our CHECK THE LABEL education campaign and the AFL-CIO-endorsed boycott of Mondelēz/Nabisco Products made in Mexico has been very successful. However, the injustice of the workers at Mondelēz’ Chicago Nabisco bakery remains.

March 23rd marks one year since the company began laying off workers from the Chicago bakery and sending their jobs to Salinas, Mexico. Now, workers toiling under exploitative  conditions in Mexico produce the formerly made-in-the U.S. Nabisco products that are shipped back to American consumers.

On March 23rd we will mark the Chicago layoffs with a DIGITAL DAY OF ACTIONthat will feature an exciting new tool to help spread a message of solidarity and tell Mondelēz that we will not give up this fight against a destructive corporate philosophy that destroys jobs and communities.

To RSVP click on this DIGITAL DAY OF ACTION that will take place exclusively through our social media channels. We are asking that you save the date and share in the Facebook and Twitter actions on March 23rd.

Many thanks on behalf of the BCTGM International Union and the Nabisco 600 Campaign.
In solidarity,

Corrina Christensen, Director of Communications & Public Relations
Michelle Ellis, Director of New Media

P.S. In addition to the BCTGM International’s blog and social media sites, be sure to visit the Nabisco 600 blogFacebook and Twitter pages to stay connected!

 

Buy Oreos Made in the USA

by Paul Garver

The Bakery, Confectionery and Tobacco and Grain Millers Union (BCTGM) produced this video to promote its campaign to save the jobs of 600 workers at the Nabisco plant in Chicago.

The global food conglomerate Mondelez International, which now operates five Nabisco factories in the USA. has a history of relocating production of its bakery products from the USA and Europe to lower-wage countries.

Mondelez is opposed by a global coalition of unions cooperating through the International Union of Food Workers (IUF), which includes the BCTGM.   Last year the international union network issued a consensus statement demanding that Mondelez stop outsourcing production as part of a Screamdelez campaign demanding justice for Mondelez workers.

Mondelez

Normally international union coalitions have difficulty in supporting appeals to Buy American, which might pit workers in one country against those in another. But there are special circumstances in this case.  Production from the two Nabisco Mexican factories in Salinas and Monterey  is dedicated entirely to the North American market. The Mexican Nabisco plants have no autonomous union to represent the workers. Moreover Mondelez has used blackmail tactics against the BCTGM Chicago local demanding concessions that would amount to  60% pay cut as the condition of not shifting several production lines from Chicago to Salinas.  .

The BCTGM’s campaign is being supported by prominent Mexican-American Chicago politician Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, and by a rally addressed by former CWA president Larry Cohen, now a leader of Labor for Bernie. However only vocal and continued consumer support for the campaign might put enough pressure on Mondelez to save several hundred crucial industrial jobs in Chicago.

 

 

 

Mondelez Girds for War against U.S. Bakery Workers

by Paul Garver

mondelezshareholder  2013, BCTGM Members in Chicago Demonstrate Solidarity with Mondelez workers facing oppression in Egypt, Pakistan and Tunisia

You may have never heard of a global snack food conglomerate called Mondelez.   You will be hearing more about it over the next few months.

Through a series of global mergers,  Mondelez became the parent corporation of Nabisco (Oreos, Chip Ahoys, Ritz Crackers, etc.).  Nabisco used to operate dozens of factories in the USA, but has closed all but five of them to improve corporate profit margins. Two  factories in Monterrey and Salinas, Mexico, also produce for the U.S. market. I used to live across the street from a Nabisco factory  producing crackers and appetizing smells in Pittsburgh. This factory closed down despite a long union and community struggle to keep its doors open through new ownership.

The remaining Nabisco industrial bakeries in the USA are located in Atlanta (GA), Richmond (VA), Fairlawn (NJ), Portland (OR), with its largest one located on the southwest side of  Chicago (IL).

The huge multi-story Nabisco factory in Chicago has employed generations of workers.  Currently it employs some 1200 workers, the large majority of whom are African-American or Hispanic, over forty years old, and with many decades of service to Nabisco.

Nabisco workers are members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM), which for several decades had been able to negotiate decent collective bargaining agreements with previous owners of Nabisco.

Mondelez recently sent out pink slips laying off 277 union workers at the Chicago plant, first installment of the announced 600 layoffs.  In advance of the national collective bargaining round that began this month (February 2016), the company demanded $46 million in annual concessions in perpetuity as the price of not moving four major production lines from Chicago to Salinas.  The union calculated that would mean a 60% reduction in union wages and benefits in Chicago, and refused.  Mondelez is now heavily investing at Salinas and the transfer of production to Salinas is now underway.

The BCTGM is trying to organize community and political support in Chicago to protect its members and their community.  However the odds of success appear stacked against them.   Job security has become the key issue in the national negotiations between Nabisco and the BCTGM, in which the company is also trying to eliminate the multi-employer BCTGM pension plan for all plants.

Leading the union negotiating team is former Chicago Nabisco worker Jethro Head, now an International Vice-President for the BCTGM.  He points out that that the company introduced its bargaining position by blaming the workers and their union of hindering the global competitiveness of Mondelez, and thereby standing in the way of the necessary investments in efficiency.

Ominously Mondelez seems to be preparing for a long confrontation with the union.

According to a report in the US union-supported Northwest Labor Press (click here [1] to read), Mondelez has recruited strikebreakers in preparation for national bargaining with the IUF-affiliated BCTGM covering 5 Nabisco biscuit plants and three distribution centers.

Weeks before bargaining formally got underway on February 16, a company called Huffmaster Crisis Response, which provides replacement workers and security and describes itself as “the leading management of strike management solutions”, began posting online advertisements for experienced temporary workers “for a possible labor dispute that may occur on or about February 29, 2016.” That is the date on which the union agreements expire at the Nabisco sites. The advertisements do not mention Mondelez or Nabisco by name but seek to recruit workers in each of the five cities where the production plants are located.

According to the report, union representatives at the Nabisco bakery in Portland Oregon say that strike replacement workers have already been brought into the bakery to observe union members performing their jobs.

Through my previous work with the International Union of Foodworkers (IUF), I got to know the dedication and skill of Jethro Head and of BCTGM General President David Durkee.   They will do whatever they can to effectively represent their union members in Chicago and the other Nabisco sites, even if this brings them into a collision course with the giant global snackfood corporation Mondelez.  The BCTGM has always demonstrated solidarity with workers in other countries when called upon.  The IUF has helped create a Mondelez International Union Solidarity Network that affirms the solidarity of its affiliates to provide mutual support for the BCTGM in this struggle.   But solidarity and support to be effective will require strong labor and community support for the BCTGM Nabisco workers in Chicago, Portland, Atlanta, Richmond and Fairlawn.

We will cover this emerging story over the next weeks and months.