In response to Mondelēz International’s ongoing violations of its Collective Bargaining Agreement, BCTGM Local 300 – which represents nearly 1,000 members at the Mondelēz Nabisco Bakery located at 7300 Kedzie Avenue in Chicago – filed for injunctive relief requesting court-compelled arbitration regarding these violations. The complaint particularly calls for arbitration regarding the company’s continued use of non-union employees in bargaining unit positions instead of hiring union employees into open positions, as required under the Collective Bargaining Agreement. The complaint contends that this action was taken to diminish the union’s bargaining power prior to moving production lines to Mexico, an action which would eliminate nearly half of the jobs at the Bakery. The filing calls for the stoppage of any job movement while these issues are in dispute.
BCTGM Midwest Region International Vice President Jethro Head, who also lives in the Chicago area, said, “Mondelēz has lied about its intentions from day one in their plans to relocate work from the Chicago Bakery to its newly built plant in Salinas, Mexico. They came to us in May of 2015 with a request that the members of Local 300 give up 46 million dollars annually in wages and benefits in order to secure four new ovens here in Chicago. The company knew that people could not work for half the pay and practically nonexistent benefits crafting products the company makes billions a year on under their current wage agreement. In addition, it was clear that the company had already made the decision to take the jobs to Mexico before we even met. They have not hired any Local 300 bargaining unit members since November of 2014 as positions opened at the company. Their proposal was bogus and nothing more than an attempt to go through the motions of discussing something they had decided at least as far back as 2014.”
Ed Burpo, Local 300 President, commented on the company hiring of non-union contractors, “The company contends that it had to bring in contractors to cover the work because of increased absenteeism, but it has nothing to do with absenteeism and everything to do with the company not hiring in the bargaining unit to replace workers that had left since November of 2014, while still trying to complete the same workload on a daily basis. Of course you will be short when you do not hire to replace those who leave or retire. The company always try to make the facts fit their statements rather than backing up their statements with the facts.”
On January 19th, the company advised 277 Local 300 members that they would be terminated on March 21st as the company takes their jobs to Mexico. BCTGM International President David Durkee, in response to the notices said, “We are not surprised that they have chosen this time to give their notice. It falls just weeks before the parties sit down to begin bargaining over the national terms for more than 2,200 BCTGM members who work for Mondelēz at six locations across the United States, including the Chicago Bakery. But regardless of the reason for the timing, we are not going to let a formal notice from this employer divert us from our goal of preventing this movement of good paying jobs to their low wage alternative in Mexico.”
President Durkee continued, “The communities where this company operates across the country have delivered much to this employer in the form of tax breaks, worker skills and loyalty, as well as other forms of community support which resulted in billions upon billions of corporate profits. They have now turned around and aim to take these jobs to the low wage, mostly unregulated economies where they have built their new plants. In other words, the company wants to have it both ways – they want Americans to purchase its products, but aren’t interested in investing in Americans making the products. This is the mindset of a corporation without a conscience. We will not go silently over this type of social scavengery, we are going to call them out on this from all across the country.”
In recent years, Mondelēz has exhibited a pattern of seeking short-term cost cuts at the expense of larger productivity that erodes job security and working conditions for its employees. Mondelēz CEO Irene Rosenfeld took in more than $21 million in total compensation in 2014, a nearly $6 million increase from the previous year as she and her Board of Directors continue to attempt to drive down wages and benefits of their own employees worldwide. Over the past eight years, she alone has received about $170 million in compensation from the corporation.
The National contract between Mondelēz International and more than 2,000 of its 4,000 workers represented by the BCTGM expires on February 29, 2016.