By Don McIntosh
Bakers Local 364 President Cameron Taylor remembers when Portland’s Nabisco bakery was one of 13 across the United States. Today there are five, and on Nov. 12, corporate owner Mondelēz notified workers that it may close its Fair Lawn, New Jersey and Atlanta, Georgia plants in mid-2021. That would leave just three: Portland, Chicago, and Richmond, Virginia.
The closures would be a stone-hearted ‘thank you’ to roughly 1,000 New Jersey and Georgia members of the Bakery Confectionery Tobacco and Grain Millers (BCTGM) union who stayed on the job during a pandemic to feed a highly profitable snack boom.
In recent years, already-profitable Mondelēz-Nabisco has increased profits further by closing its U.S. bakeries, outsourcing to nonunion co-producers, and shifting production to low-wage plants in Monterrey and Salinas, Mexico. It closed its Philadelphia plant in 2015, and eliminated snack lines in Chicago in 2017.
At a Southeast Portland Fred Meyer, nearly every Nabisco product on the shelf said “Made in Mexico” on a recent visit—including Oreo, Chips Ahoy, Ritz Crackers, and Honey Maid graham crackers. Chicken in a Biskit crackers were Portland-made at least. You can tell if a Nabisco product was made in Portland because the “best when used by” date is followed by the letters “AH.”
To protest the offshoring, BCTGM launched a boycott of Mexican-made Nabisco products in 2016. The national AFL-CIO continues to include Mexican-made Nabisco products on its boycott list, but BCTGM is no longer actively publicizing the boycott, and its boycott web site fightforamericanjobs.org is down.
BCTGM membership has fallen every year for 20 years, from 117,000 in 2000 to under 64,000 today.
Its current contract with Mondelēz-Nabisco expires at the end of February 2021.