On Friday, February 19, the Maritime Trades Department of the AFL-CIO offered the following statement of support.
PRESERVING NABISCO JOBS
Chicago has been home to some of organized labor’s greatest battles.
From the fight for the 8-hour day, the Haymarket tragedy, the Pullman railroad strike, the Memorial Day massacre, and the battles in the stockyards, Chicago has been the center of labor struggle for almost two centuries.
Now a different type of battle is brewing in Chicago, one with far reaching consequences for workers across the U.S. and beyond its borders.
The MTD-affiliated Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union is confronting one of the largest and most recognizable food companies in the world: Mondelez International, parent company of Nabisco.
Over the last decade, Nabisco has systematically outsourced North American production to facilities in Mexico and to low wage, non-union co-manufacturers in the U.S. The result has been the loss of thousands of middle class union jobs, and the slow decimation of families and communities.
Instead of reinvesting in its U.S. and Canadian operations and maintaining a strong, dedicated middle class workforce, the $35 billion giant has directed its money in annual profits to outrageous CEO pay, dividends to the largest shareholders and billions in stock buybacks.
Taking advantage of trade laws like NAFTA, Nabisco recently invested more than $500 million into a plant in Salinas, Mexico, the largest cookie/cracker facility in the world. Mexican manufacturing workers average $3 per hour in wages, with little to no benefits. Most, if not all of that production is being sent back to American consumers.
In 2015, Nabisco announced it would invest $130 million to install what it called “Lines of the Future” in either the BCTGM’s iconic Chicago facility, or at its new plant in Mexico.
To secure the investment in Chicago, Mondelez wanted BCTGM Local 300 members to come up with annual savings of $46 million ($22-$29 per hour in wage and benefit reductions) that would go on in perpetuity.
In May, the company announced that the investment would be made in Mexico and that 600 of its 1,000 workers in Chicago would be laid off.
The BCTGM has launched a comprehensive campaign to not only save these jobs and keep them in Chicago, but to ensure that all remaining jobs in the U.S. and Canada are preserved. In addition, the BCTGM is launching a campaign to educate the public about saving U.S. manufacturing jobs by checking food labels to make sure consumers are not buying “Made in Mexico” food products.
The MTD, its affiliates and its Port Maritime Councils stand with our sisters and brothers of the BCTGM in their fight to keep fighting for American jobs. We will be with them money, marbles and chalk.