Workers at Nabisco End Week-Long Strike Following Agreement on a New Contract.
The standoff began in August, when members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers Union protested proposed changes to shift lengths and overtime laws.
Nabisco employees in five states ended a weeks-long strike on Saturday, when their union reported that its members had decisively ratified a four-year contract with the parent company of the creator of Oreos, Ritz Crackers, and other delicacies.
Employees are represented by the International Union of Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers, which had argued with Nabisco's owner, Mondelez International, over proposed changes to shift lengths and overtime laws.
The walkout reintroduced the snack behemoth to the public eye after it faced criticism from union members over long shifts, pensions, and the decision to manufacture some goods in Mexico, a move that Donald J. Trump condemned as a presidential candidate.
“This has been a long and arduous battle for our striking members, their families, and our union,” the union's president, Anthony Shelton, said in a statement on Saturday. “Our members demonstrated incredible courage, tenacity, and commitment during the strike.”
Mondelez said in an update posted on its website Saturday that the striking workers would return to work this week.
“Our goal has always been to reach agreements that provide fair wages and benefits to our unionized employees while also positioning our bakeries and sales distribution facilities in the United States for future growth and success,” Glen Walter, Mondelez's executive vice president of North America, said in a statement.
“We look forward to reintroducing our B.C.T.G.M.-represented employees and resuming normal production and delivery to clients and consumers,” he said, referring to the union.
Mondelez stated on its website that the new deal was retroactive to March 1 of this year and includes "annual increases in hourly wages, a higher corporate match on 401(k) contributions, and revisions to key workplace standards."
The union did not immediately respond to inquiries regarding the agreement's particular details. According to images of the deal shared on Twitter by More Perfect Union, an organization that creates "media that supports working people," workers will receive 2.25 percent rises in 2021 and 60 cents per hour increases in each of the following three years.
Additionally, the photos revealed that the contract included a $5,000 incentive and that the firm will double its 401(k) matching contributions from 25% to 50% for up to 6% of qualifying earnings beginning in 2022.
Though the union's previous contract expired months earlier, the standoff officially began in August, when workers at a Nabisco bakery in Portland, Ore., went on strike. Their union alleged that Mondelez demanded unfair contract concessions during a period of the company's rapid sales growth.
Workers in Colorado, Virginia, Illinois, and Georgia followed suit, with the union estimating that over 1,000 Nabisco employees participated in the walkout. According to Mondelez, which is located in Chicago, the walkout disrupted three bakeries and three minor sales distribution operations.
As the strike progressed, tensions over the contract issue intensified — as did Mondelez's disclosure of its earnings. The company recorded a 12% increase in revenue for the three months ended in June, compared to the prior year.
In Portland last week, striking workers on a picket line prevented numerous vehicles from leaving a Nabisco factory, resulting in an incident with security personnel, according to television station KATU.
Throughout the contract negotiations, the union pressured Mondelez to reinstate a pension plan for Nabisco employees, which was eliminated in 2018 in favor of a 401(k) plan.
A major area of dispute between the union and the firm concerned overtime: Mondelez desired that certain Nabisco employees perform 12-hour shifts without earning overtime pay in return for working fewer days per week. Previously eligible for overtime compensation, those performing weekend shifts would receive the premium only after working 40 hours in a week. According to contract images released online, the weekend shifts will be largely filled by newer employees.