By Don McIntosh
Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers (BCTGM) union agreed on Feb. 26 to a proposal by Mondelēz-Nabisco to extend a nationwide set of collective bargaining agreements by three months, to the end of May, and to raise wages across the board by 2.25%. The raise brings the typical wage to $29.40 an hour.
The contracts cover about 2,000 workers at five U.S. bakeries, plus distribution centers in Colorado, Illinois, and Georgia, but the company is about to close two of those bakeries. Last November Mondelēz-Nabisco told employees it was considering closing its plants in Fair Lawn, New Jersey, and Atlanta, Georgia, and on Feb. 4, the closure was announced as official: The plants will close this summer, eliminating about 1,000 jobs total. The remaining plants are in Portland, Chicago, and Richmond, Virginia.
BCTGM has objected for years about the company shifting production to a new plant near Monterrey, Mexico—and shipping Mexican-made Oreos and other Nabisco snacks to the United States. In its statement announcing the closures, Mondelēz-Nabisco said no U.S. jobs will go to Mexico related to the closures.
“U.S. biscuit production levels will be maintained,” the statement said. “Production from Atlanta and Fair Lawn will shift to other Mondelēz owned-and-operated bakeries in the U.S. and U.S.-based external manufacturing.”
“External manufacturing” would appear to be code for the non-union companies that for decades have baked some Nabisco products under contract with the company, such as Hearthside Foods in McComb, Ohio. BCTGM has campaigned on and off over the years to unionize the McComb bakery, but workers there have rejected the union, most recently by 412 to 313 in a Dec. 3, 2020 vote.
BCTGM Local 364 Business Representative Cameron Taylor, who represents 211 workers at the Portland Nabisco plant, says he opposed the contract extension at first, but came around on the grounds that it would result in increased severance for the members who will be laid off in the two plants.