The snack and the strike back

Nabisco strike continues into fifth week

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The first strikes in Portland included picketing just outside the processing facility. (Photo from Wikimedia.org)

Ella Whalen, Staff Writer

The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers’ International Union (BCTGM) has been striking against the snack company Nabisco for 38 days and continues to urge consumers to boycott their products.

Nabisco, owners of Oreo, Chips Ahoy!, and Ritz, among others, closed two of their five American processing plants during the course of the Covid-19 pandemic. Around mid-2021, its labor contracts with the workers at the remaining three plants (organized by the BCTGM) expired as well, with no immediate replacement. In discussions on the new contract, Nabisco pushed to remove pension benefits as well as reduce overtime pay. After over three weeks of negotiations, workers at the Portland facility started a walkout, with the other facilities joining the strike within a week and a half.

Employees of Nabisco have stated that working 6- or 7-day weeks for 12- to 16-hour days was not uncommon during the pandemic. While the previous system paid one-and-a-half times standard wage for overtime as well double on Sundays, Nabisco’s proposal would only be paying one-and-a-half after 40 hours worked in a week, with no doubling system in place. With Nabisco’s parent company Mondelez International making record profits during the pandemic, this pay cut is seen as solely an act of greed by the union workers. Concerns have also been expressed that the plant closures were because Nabisco is outsourcing jobs to Mexico, and the BCTGM is pushing for a guarantee against that.

While the strike continues, so does a simultaneous boycott of Nabisco goods, or as Danny DeVito puts it in a tweet before temporarily losing his verification, “NO CONTRACTS NO SNACKS.” However, especially with Oreo releasing limited-edition Pokémon-themed cookies on September 8th, some consumers have been reluctant to join in. Although they may be alluring, not purchasing them both shows support for the BCTGM and helps give Nabisco an (albeit relatively minor) incentive to loosen up on negotiations. So far, sales of many Nabisco products have been dropping, but it is difficult to tell whether this is due to the boycott or the decrease in supply due to the strike.