Nabisco outsources jobs, former employees boycott

Nate Zeff and Anthony Jackson, both representatives of the Nabisco 600, visiting Washburn University to raise awareness for their boycott against Nabisco. Nabisco laid off hundreds of workers after downsizing their Chicago bakery.

Brittany Williams

The Nabisco Brand has long been an American household staple. Oreos, Chips Ahoy! and Ritz are prevalent in convenience stores, grocery chains and retail businesses throughout the country.

A large portion of the company’s labor force had been located on the Southside of Chicago, Illinois. Recently, however, the brand laid-off approximately six hundred of its employees. Many of the jobs were outsourced to the company’s Salinas, Mexico factory.

Nabisco, a subsidiary of the Mondelez International corporation, completely closed its Philadelphia, Pennsylvania plant in 2015, which resulted in the loss of approximately three hundred jobs. Now that the Chicago factory has drastically reduced its employee capacity, former Nabisco workers fear other American corporations will follow suit and create a domino effect of job outsourcing.

Anthony Jackson, Nabisco 600 spokesperson and member of The Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, is one of the laid off workers from the Chicago plant. The father of three has been visiting college campuses around the country to inform students about the outsourcing.

“We’re here to educate students on what could happen as far as the corporate business model, which is currently ruining America right now,” Jackson said. “We’re trying to stop the exploitation of the American workers, as well as the exploitation of the Mexican people.”

In addition to the loss of manufacturing jobs for Americans, Mexican workers at the Salinas facility are currently being paid nominal wages.

“When you make four dollars and nineteen cents a day and a package of cookies is four dollars and eighty-seven cents, that means you worked a full day and you can’t afford a snack,” Jackson said. “How are they supposed to provide for their families?”

While the cost of living in Salinas is less than that of the average U.S. city, the pay that Nabisco offers to its workers in Mexico remains insufficient.

Nate Zeff, Nabisco 600 campaign organizer, was also laid off from the Chicago plant and is traveling to campuses along with Jackson.

“Mondelez headquarters are still in the same building in Chicago. The CEO lives in Chicago,” Zeff reveals. “They try to present this other image, but really what they’re doing is using this business model, that is very common now, to exploit unprotected labor and lower wage economies and profit more and more.”

BCTGM campaign organizer, Elce Redmond, who accompanied Jackson and Zeff, is adamant that the outsourcing is not limited to Mexico. In fact, large corporations, like Mondelez, possess the ability to move to other countries should the expense for labor in Salinas compromise their profits.

“What we need to do is ensure that our Mexican brothers and sisters are getting living wages.” Redmond said. “Not only are they making four dollars and nineteen cents a day, they’re working in very inhumane conditions.”

Even if you are not directly affected by the outsourcing of jobs from Chicago or the closing of the Philadelphia plant, Jackson, Zeff and Redmond say that you may still have reason to be concerned about their campaign.

“What’s the first thing they tell you if you visit Mexico?” Jackson said. “Don’t drink the water. What do you think the water is going to be like in this rural area? I know that water quality is very important in making Oreo cookies, Ritz crackers and all the other Nabisco products.”

Because the FDA, USDA and EPA do not regulate Mexico, the quality of Nabisco snacks that American consumers have come to expect may very well be jeopardized by production at the Salinas plant.

What Jackson, Zeff and other Nabisco employees would like consumers everywhere to do is boycott all Nabisco products that are produced in Mexico. Those products made in Mexico will say so on their packaging, but can also be identified by the “MM” or “MS” in their expiration date.

“Be a conscious consumer,” Zeff advises.

The trio have visited 25 U.S. states already and plan to travel to more college campuses. They say that their goal is to expose the crimes of Mondelez and to force them to revamp their business model.