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Nabisco Workers Return To Their Jobs Following 5-Week Strike

Workers who make and distribute Oreo cookies, Ritz crackers and others Nabisko snacks return to work this week after five week strike this drew the country’s attention to the working conditions in their factories.

They had a lot to fight for – preventing a major overhaul of the company’s health plans – but they didn’t get everything.

The shutdown affected approximately 1,000 employees at the Portland, Oregon facility; Aurora, Colorado; Chicago; Richmond, Virginia; and Norcross, Georgia. They have resisted an attempt by Mondelez International, the company that owns Nabisco, to stop paying some overtime allowances and, among other things, offer new employees a more expensive health plan.

The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Flour Mills (BCTGM) workers’ union reached a preliminary agreement with the company last week and put the proposal to a vote on Saturday. Union officials said members voted 590 to 201 for ratification.

This amounts to 75% in favor of the agreement and 25% against it, suggesting that a significant minority wanted to continue the strike and return to the negotiating table with Mondelez.

Darlene Carpenter, a business agent for BCTGM Local 358 in Richmond, said the members were “thrilled” with the contract. The International Union did not count the votes separately at the five workplaces, but instead combined them all into one count, so Carpenter does not know what was the breakdown of votes in Richmond. But she believes that the overwhelming majority voted in favor.

“It’s a win-win,” Carpenter told HuffPost. Richmond, Chicago, Colorado and Georgia, they tickle to death.

Portland remained. Mike Burlingham, vice president of BCTGM Local 364 and a longtime employee at the Portland facility, said many members in his area are concerned about the proposal. There were workers there called on workers elsewhere to vote against the deal because Portland Mercury reported last week.

“I have to assume that the majority of the no votes came from Portland, given how openly and openly everyone here was against,” Burlingham said.

He acknowledged that the strike was largely crowned with success. Perhaps most importantly, the union has resisted the company’s attempt to change the health plan. What Mondelez has proposed is commonly referred to as a two-tier system: current employees will keep their high-quality plan, while new employees will pay more in deductibles and bonuses.

In addition to reducing the wages of future workers, this scheme can lead to divisions within the union over time, as people receive different remuneration for the same work. Carpenter said that it is very important for them to fight off this concession.

“They wanted to create a two-tier system. She’s gone, ”she said. “There is no change in healthcare.”

There were other victories in the contract.

Mondelez will double compliance with 401 (k) workers’ plans and increase short-term disability benefits, according to a copy of the agreement first published in the media. A more perfect union… Workers will receive a 60 percent increase per hour each year over a four-year contract and will receive a $ 5,000 ratification bonus for contract approval.

Such bonuses are common in deals that end strikes after workers have donated their wages and survived with money from the union strike fund. In this case, many Nabisco workers took part-time jobs to recoup at least some of the lost income.

So why did some workers want to vote against the contract?

For Burlingham and others in Portland, it was about changes to the agreement regarding scheduling and overtime.

“It’s because of the verbosity of the team over the weekend,” Burlingham said. “Many of us think this is just a foot in the door to an alternate work week, which was the big deal that we went on strike for.”

Burlingham was referring to Mondelez’s proposal to move to a scheduling system in which some workers would work three 12-hour shifts from Friday to Monday. For many participants, this was not a start because they had long enjoyed weekend pay raises that raised their pay and discouraged the company from scheduling weekend work. The workers were given one and a half hours on Saturday and double time on Sunday.

Both sides eventually came to a compromise. None of the current workers will be forced to work three-day shifts on weekends, but Mondelez will be able to hire new crews to work on this schedule without much extra pay (they will work 36 hours and get paid in 40). The amount of work assigned to these new teams will be limited so that current workers can get weekend overtime if they want.

It’s a better option for workers than Mondelez originally suggested, but it’s still sort of a two-tier system as new hires will work Friday through Monday on less terms.

“Anyone who walks through the door will obey this new schedule,” Burlingham said. “They’re just going to get a job right away and be stuck in it for a whole year before they can be seen as leaving. I do not like this “.

Another Portland employee, who asked to remain anonymous for confidentiality reasons, agreed with Burlingham.

“The weekend crew will have a lower seniority, but will eventually take on the Lifetime Achievement Award. [workers], “They said.” But they will work for direct pay. “

Despite this, “we got almost everything we wanted,” the worker said.

A Mondelez spokesman said in an email that there was no “specific timeline” for hiring teams over the weekend. The company organized awareness programs this week after the strike at affected bakeries and distribution centers as production fully recovered.

Burlingham said it might take some time before workers see how the company implements weekend shifts and how the new language affects their work. While he doesn’t like the change, he said the workers would never have won what they did if they hadn’t taken the position and received so much public support, from Portland locals to the actor. Danny DeVito

“For most of us, this was the first strike. You don’t know what to expect, ”he said. “More and more people began to come to the rallies. It was wonderful. This lifted our spirits. This is what helped us. This made us stronger. “

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