Nabisco Strike Over, You May Now Recommence Eating Snacks

Class War
Nabisco Strike Over, You May Now Recommence Eating Snacks
Oreos and Chips Ahoy by Kraft Nabisco in a grocery store i… | Flickr

Nabisco workers are returning to work this week after reaching a tentative deal on a new contract with parent company Mondelez International.

As you may recall, the workers — members of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers (BCTGM) union — went on strike last month after Mondelez presented them with some extra-crappy new contracts that included establishing 12-hour shifts without overtime as the norm, and an extra-crappy two-tier healthcare plan that would require new hires to pay more for their plans than current workers. This is a common union-busting tactic, meant to undermine worker solidarity and make new hires resentful of old hires and thus skeptical of the usefulness of unions.

The new contract is not perfect — in fact, workers at the Portland, Oregon, branch that initiated the strike opposed accepting it — but it's something. Most importantly, the healthcare cuts have been blocked. The organizers also secured $5,000 (before taxes) lump-sum bonuses for all workers, a 2.25 percent wage increase. along with 60-cent hourly raises for the next four years (the term of the contract), an increase in short-term disability pay, and an increase in the company's 401(k) contributions, moving from a 25 percent match to a 50 percent match.

The downside, and the reason workers at the Portland plant wanted to hold out, is that the new contract includes a provision for 12-hour, no-overtime workdays for new hires. Basically they are creating a "weekend crew" that will work three 12-hour shifts between Monday and Friday (36 hours total), but will be paid for 40 hours. New hires assigned to this job will not be able to bid out of it for a year, but current employees can also bid for the shift if that is what they want to do.

However, the Portland workers still consider the strike to have largely been a success, as it was at least better than what the company was trying to do originally.

Local 364 business manager Cameron Taylor told the Portland Mercury, "[The strike] sent a message to all corporations that workers are not going to get pushed around, even if these corporations are multi-billion corporations. [...] I think the strike was a success, we couldn't accept what the company was stuck on … and we got them to move off of it."

In a statement on Saturday BCTGM International President Anthony Shelton said:

This has been a long and difficult fight for our striking members, their families and our Union. Throughout the strike, our members displayed tremendous courage, grit and determination.

The BCTGM's striking members made enormous sacrifices in order to achieve a quality contract that preserves our Union's high standards for wages, hours and benefits for current and future Nabisco workers. Their sacrifice will benefit all BCTGM members and working people around the country for years to come. Those Brothers and Sisters who walked the picket lines day in and day out are true BCTGM heroes.

The BCTGM is grateful for the outpouring of fraternal support and Solidarity we received from across the labor movement in the U.S. and around the world.

While the workers did not get everything they wanted, they very likely wouldn't have gotten anything at all if they weren't in a union.

Mondelez International posted its own statement, insisting it has always wanted to do right by its workers.

"Our goal has always been to reach agreements that would provide our union-represented colleagues with good wages and competitive benefits, while also positioning our U.S. bakeries and sales distribution facilities for future growth and success," said Glen Walter, EVP and President, North America, Mondelēz International. "We are pleased that we were able to accomplish that goal with these new contracts and that our colleagues chose to ratify them. We have a bright future as a snacking leader here in the United States, and our employees at these bakeries and distribution sites play an important part in that future. We look forward to welcoming back our BCTGM-represented colleagues and returning to normal production and distribution to customers and consumers."

Sure, that's believable, given that the workers had to go on strike to simply hold on to some of those benefits. But hey, if the company wants to pat itself on the back, go ahead, as long as it doesn't actually screw over its workers.

So yes. You can now go back to eating Oreos, if that is your thing. We are Hydrox people in my family (they still sell them online sometimes, but it looks like they are currently out), but I do use Ritz crackers in a lot of recipes and it will be nice to be able to do that again.


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Robyn Pennacchia

Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse


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