Tough cookies – Oreo workers win their strike


Portland, Ore. (PAI) – You can buy and eat Oreo cookies again. Just make sure they’re made in the USA, especially Portland, Ore., and not in Monterrey, Mexico.

The reason we specify Portland is it’s where Mondelez workers, at that Nabisco cookie and snack plant and fed up with the company’s refusal to bargain a new and better contract at a time of record earnings, started what became a national walkout by the firm’s workers, all Bakery, Confectionery and Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) members.

Key issues were not just raises but working conditions. Those sometimes included back-to-back 12-to-16-hour shifts, the union said.

Workers at the company’s five U.S. snack plants, including Portland and Chicago, didn’t get all they wanted, but they got a lot from the company and overwhelmingly ratified the contract, union President Anthony Shelton said.

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

He added, “The striking union 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 heroes.”

AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, a Portland native, was among those sending messages of support and solidarity.

The workers demanded an end to forced 12-hour to 16-hour shifts, often back-to-back, known as “suicide shifts,” and six- or seven-day workweeks. They also wanted better wages and benefits, including restoring their pensions, which Mondelez had replaced with “an inferior program” in 2018. They also sought improved overtime and health insurance provisions.

The union did not disclose specifics of what it won. But, a pro-worker video website, said the contract includes a 60-cent per hour wage increase for each year in its four-year term, a $5,000 signing bonus for all employees and replacement of the two-tiered health insurance system that hurt new workers.

The union argued that Mondelez could afford to be generous, as the coronavirus pandemic drove the country indoors – snacking away. Its revenue last quarter was $6.64 billion, or 12 percent more than the equivalent quarter of a year before, while its revenue for the year increased 3 percent.


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