The following is a message from the Mondelēz /Nabisco bargaining table from International VP Jethro Head, Union Chairman:
As each of you are aware, the Union began bargaining with Mondelēz-Nabisco management on the National level starting Tuesday, February 16. Pam Distefano, the chief negotiator for the Company read a statement on February 17 that was as disrespectful to its loyal workforce as the proposals it has passed across the table. I was amazed to learn through her four pages of prepared remarks just how convinced the Company is that their employees and their union have held the company back from important improvements and global competitiveness. It is a tragedy that in her tenure with Mondelēz-Nabisco she has failed to see the dedication that each of you puts into your work everyday. Many of you dedicated yourselves to this company for decades — as did your mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers and other family members.
In her remarks, Distefano said that real job security will come from being competitive, changing and learning new skills. Yet, through no fault of their own, more than 455 of our members in Chicago face the prospect of being laid off and their jobs sent to Mexico. Not because they did not work hard each day and not because they were not committed to the work they do. But because they are making a good wage with good benefits and wouldn’t forfeit 60 percent of their wages and benefits in order to secure their work in Chicago. The tone of the Company’s opening statement was that each of you did not do enough in the past to secure a place in the future as an employee of this company. We will continue to fight this misguided Company attitude at the bargaining table and into the future.
In addition, the Company came to the bargaining table with the belief that workers should be asked to abandon their pension plan and move to a retirement savings plan. They want out of the B&C Pension Plan because they claim they are concerned for the retirement security of workers and believe that a savings plan would be better suited. What they fail to disclose is that under their plan, when you are out of savings then you are out of luck financially. Why? Because there is no guarantee that you will not outlive that savings.
Meanwhile, you have to wonder why the Company wants to fund a new plan and at the same time pay the withdrawal liability penalty from the current pension plan, which according to Mondelēz, would more than double what they would pay out annually in the next 20 years. With every action and every decision this Company makes, cost is always a top concern. That is why it is especially interesting that they are willing to double their payments, to the tune of almost $55 million dollars annually for almost 20 years. That’s because there is more to their plan than keeping you secure in your retirement.
In addition to leaving the Pension Plan, the Company is proposing that it will reduce retiree benefit levels back to where they were on January 1, 2007, eliminate all supplemental retirement income and eliminate Golden 80 eligibility for those who have reached it but not yet retired, as well as for future retirees. The Company claims that under their new plan they would make it up to workers.
How secure are you in believing they will make good on that promise?
But this is only the beginning. The Company has proposed drastic changes to the healthcare coverage of both the active and retired member. Their shiny new plan calls for thousands of dollars each year in out-of- pocket-costs, as well cost- sharing of premiums on a monthly basis.
Let there be little doubt that this company cares nothing about your future or the future of your families. Success at the bargaining table to protect you and your family requires more solidarity and focus than ever before. The Union has approached contract negotiations in good faith and we are willing to listen to reasonable changes and address such proposals rationally. But your Union will not allow its membership to be treated with disrespect and without recognition that it is the hard work and dedication of the workers that have created the wealth and the iconic Nabisco brand by which this company has prospered throughout history. The Union is engaging in good faith negotiations to get an agreement —but it must be a fair deal. One that protects Mondelēz-Nabisco workers now and provides meaningful job security into the future.
Keep the faith and I will be reporting to you more in the near future.
– Jethro Head, International VP and Union Chairman