Enjoy Union-Made Oreo Cookies

You can buy and eat Oreo cookies again.

Just make sure they’re made in the U.S.A., especially in Portland, Ore., not in Monterrey, Mexico.

The reason we specify Portland is it’s where Mondelēz workers at the Nabisco cookie and snack plant, fed up with the company's refusal to bargain a new and better contract at a time of record earnings, started what became a national walkout by the firm’s workers, all Bakery, Confectionery and Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) members.

Key issues were not just raises, but especially working conditions. Those sometimes included back-to-back 12- to-16-hour shifts, BCTGM said. 

The workers at the firm’s five U.S. snack plants, including Portland and Chicago, didn’t get all they wanted, but they got a lot from the firm and overwhelmingly ratified the contract, said the union's International President Anthony Shelton. 

“This has been a long and difficult fight for our striking members, their families and our union. Throughout the strike, our members displayed tremendous courage, grit and determination,” he said Sept. 18. 

“The BCTGM’s striking members made enormous sacrifices in order to achieve a quality contract that preserves our union’s high standards for wages, hours and benefits for current and future Nabisco workers," Shelton said. “Their sacrifice will benefit all BCTGM members and working people around the country for years to come. Those brothers and sisters who walked the picket lines day in and day out are true BCTGM heroes.”

“The BCTGM is grateful for the outpouring of fraternal support and solidarity we received from across the labor movement in the U.S. and around the world,” including from AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler, a Portland native, said Shelton.

The workers demanded an end to forced 12- to 16-hour shifts, often back to back, known as “suicide shifts,” and six- or seven-day workweeks. They also wanted better wages and benefits, including restoring their pensions, which Mondelēz had replaced with “an inferior program” in 2018, and improved overtime and health insurance provisions.

BCTGM did not disclose specifics of what it won. But moreperfectunion.us, a pro-worker video website, reported the contract includes a 60-cents-per-hour wage increase for each year in its four-year term, a $5,000 signing bonus for all employees and the elimination of a two-tiered health insurance plan, which hurt new workers.

BCTGM argued Mondelēz could afford to be generous, as the coronavirus pandemic drove the country indoors, snacking away. Mondelēz revenue last quarter was $6.64 billion, 12% more than the equivalent quarter of a year before, and its year-on-year revenue increased 3%.