As Mondelēz shareholders prepare to gather for the Company’s Annual Meeting, BCTGM International President David Durkee issued an open letter to highlight the yawning gap between Mondelēz rhetoric and the reality of its corporate and social responsibility record. Here is the full text of the letter to Mondelēz shareholders that has also been sent to media outlets:
Dear Mondelez Shareholders:
As you may have seen, Mondelēz Annual Shareholder Letter – filed as part of the proxy for the upcoming Shareholder Meeting – makes clear reference to the fact that Mondelēz growth is, “directly linked to enhancing the well-being of the people who make and enjoy our products.” This builds on Mondelēz oft-cited “Call for Well-Being” program, which purports to care for, among other things, all those who make the company great – including its employees. A broad range of programs are cited to support this claim: sustainable cocoa production initiatives, biodiverse wheat production, and a ‘Palm Oil Production Plan,’ among several others. Notably absent from this litany of good corporate deeds, however, is any mention of the plight of the dedicated workers from BCTGM who, for more than 50 years, have been the labor behind the Oreo cookie.
This is merely the latest betrayal of the BCTGM and its members. Mondelēz actions since 2012, in particular, have sent a very clear message that it now views its workforce – and their families – as disposable. This is most evident in the company’s 2015 closure of its Philadelphia bakery, eliminating hundreds of middle-class jobs, and its massive downsizing of the Chicago bakery in 2016 that extinguished another 600 good American jobs. Despite the Company’s altruistic rhetoric, therefore, we must refute any notion that Mondelēz practices what it preaches. In fact, we must ask – how can a company that intentionally put at least 1,000 Americans out of work; that pays the workers at its new $450M plant in Salinas, Mexico inhumane wages (reportedly around $1.00 per hour); that continues to ignore our pleas to have a dialogue about renewing the diminished relationship with our Union and the workers we represent – how can such a company have the hubris to extoll its own humanitarian virtues?
As shareholders, you have a unique opportunity to hold Mondelēz accountable for these actions and demand answers concerning why it has turned its back on its employees – who provided decades of dedicated service – by moving stable middle-class jobs out of the United States to its facilities in Mexico and taking positions that undermine the basic tenets of the Collective Bargaining Agreement (“CBA”). This short-sighted approach has robbed generations of workers, their families, and their communities of the basic promise of the American dream.
We understand, and respect, that the bottom line is important. We also understand, however, that profit at the expense of the very people who help create it is not success – it is greed. So, today, we ask that you, the owners of Mondelēz, hold the Board of Directors and the management accountable for their actions. Find out just what kind of company Mondelēz is, and most importantly, tell Mondelēz what kind of company it should be in the future.
David B. Durkee, International President, BCTGM