Calling it a “critical time for Mondelēz workers”, BCTGM International President David Durkee and Ron Oswald, General Secretary of the International Union of Food Workers (IUF) met at BCTGM International headquarters in Kensington, Md. to continue discussions on a global strategy to combat efforts by the company to dismantle workers’ collective bargaining rights.
The BCTGM and Mondelēz are currently in national negotiations working toward a new contract. The current collective bargaining agreement expires on February 29. Company proposals include getting out of the defined benefit pension plan and gutting workers’ health insurance coverage.
In the meeting of the two labor leaders, the discussions took on a note of added importance as Mondelēz continues to build more facilities in low-wage developing nations at the expense of union workers in North America, the U.K., and in Europe. The two further discussed the recent decision by Mondelēz to eliminate 600 American jobs in Chicago and send those production lines to Mexico.
“Mondelēz workers the world over are standing up to this company demanding respect on the job, demanding their voices be heard, and demanding a fair share of the pie,” stated Durkee. “With global corporations we must do so in a coordinated and strategic way, which makes our partnership with the IUF so vital.”
The IUF and its affiliates represent 2.5 million workers in 126 countries, including Mondelēz manufacturing workers in more than 30 countries.
Earlier this year, the IUF released a statement of solidarity and pledged its commitment to assisting the BCTGM in its campaign to protect Mondelēz jobs in North America. In that statement, the IUF noted that Mondelēz has growing pattern of company actions that have “profoundly negative consequences for the rights and livelihoods of IUF members around the world. The IUF and its affiliates…will take all practical measures to provide mutual support to protect the rights and welfare of our members who work either directly for the company or in outsourced employment or facilities.”
“To Mondelēz we send the clear message: we will not go quietly into the night. Collectively, we will never be beaten. Those of us who make up the global labor movement are an essential part of any decent society. And we’ll outlast those at companies like Mondelēz who make their money off the backs of hardworking men and women,” said Oswald.
The IUF has a lengthy history protecting the rights of Mondelēz workers in countries throughout the world. In 2011, five workers in a Mondelēz factory in Egypt were fired when they formed a union. The IUF launched an international campaign to fight back against the Company’s abuse of workers’ rights and in 2014, the union leaders were reinstated with full retroactive wages and benefits.
“It is vital that we link together as unions and activists across international borders,” said Oswald. “Global companies such as Mondelēz move capital around the globe seeking a so-called competitive advantage – which translates to a race to the bottom for workers. We must defend and support Mondelēz workers everywhere fighting to access their rights, particularly the right to bargain a fair contract,” concluded Oswald.