- Over 1,000 workers at Nabisco bakeries are on strike across the US over contract negotiations.
- Their contract proposals include a push against schedule changes for 12-hour shifts.
- One union representative told Insider they’re prepared to be out there for as long as it takes.
Over 1,000 workers at Nabisco bakeries across the US are on strike.
Nabisco workers — who are unionized with the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) — began striking over what they say are contract issues with Mondelez International, Nabisco’s parent company. They’re currently in the process of contract negotiations.
One point of contention is a proposed “Alternative Work Schedule,” under which workers would work 12 hours a day on three to four days a week; workers would only start receiving overtime premiums after working 40 hours in one week. Vice’s Lauren Kaori Gurley reports that workers were taking on 12- and 16-hour shifts during the pandemic. Workers are also concerned about potential changes to healthcare plans.
Portland, Oregon workers were the first to go on strike on August 10; TODAY reports that about 200 workers began striking there. They’ve since been joined by workers in Virginia, Colorado, and Illinois.
“We’re not striking for huge demands. We’re striking to hold on to what we already have,” Cameron Taylor, a business agent for BCTGM Local 364 — the Portland bakery’s chapter — told Insider. Both workers and BCTGM international president Anthony Shelton highlighted concerns that jobs would be moved to Mexico following recent closures of other plants, although a Nabisco spokesperson told Insider it was “inaccurate” to say jobs from shuttered plants had moved to Mexico.
The spokesperson said that a “small number of high-demand lines, where the business needs are 24/7” would require 12-hour shifts, three days one week or four days another, with “opportunity for overtime,” and referred Insider to an FAQ sheet that says similar.
“We are disappointed by the decision of the local BCTGM unions at our Portland (OR), Richmond (VA) and Chicago (IL) bakeries and our Aurora (CO) and Addison (IL) sales distribution facilities to go on strike,” Mondelez International said in a statement. “Our goal has been — and continues to be — to bargain in good faith with the BCTGM leadership across our US bakeries and sales distribution facilities to reach new contracts.”
Mike Burlingham, a worker at the Portland bakery and the vice president of the local, said that the strike was something new for many of the workers, but it had been building for a while.
“You’re seeing strikes happening more frequently across the country at the moment. And everybody’s kind of getting to a boiling point,” Burlingham said. “The American middle class is at war at the moment. We’re trying to save American jobs . We’re trying to save the American middle class.”
In July, Frito-Lay workers went on strike for 20 days. They ended their strike after reaching a contract agreement that included higher wages and at least one day off every week.
—Danny DeVito (@DannyDeVito) August 18, 2021
Taylor said there’s a nonstop barrage of horns going off as they strike, and Burlingham noted how many people from the community have shown up to rallies.
“It’s reached the point where I think people are paying attention. And they’re saying enough is enough,” Burlingham said. And Taylor said that they’re prepared to strike until the company moves off of their proposals.
“We’re prepared to be out there for as long as it takes,” Taylor said.