More Mexican-Made Oreos Replacing Made in the USA

In a rerun—times two—of what it did several years ago to 600 workers who manufactured Oreo cookies on Chicago’s South Side, Mondelēz is closing two unionized snack food plants, in Atlanta and in Fairlawn, New Jersey, and moving the jobs to Salinas, Mexico, and the low-paid workers there. The two plants employ approximately 1,000 people. 

“The BCTGM strongly believes BCTGM unionized employees are the most productive and efficient workers in North America,” union International President Anthony Shelton said. “Mondelēz is taking a very short-sighted action in an effort to generate corporate profits while devastating communities and families through the closure of these bakeries.

“Closing bakeries and shifting production to low-wage countries like Mexico has been the Mondelēz strategy for decades," he said. "The decision by Mondelēz to close bakeries in North America and move production to a recently built $500 million facility in Salinas, Mexico, is an effort to avoid unionization and take advantage of low-wage workers and lax food safety and environmental regulations.” That same Salinas plant took the Chicago Oreo cookies line. 

BCTGM “will continue to fight this short-sighted and destructive corporate strategy and do everything in our power to preserve good, middle-class union jobs,” he pledged. The union added in a later email that “officers and local unions are navigating the plant closings” on behalf of the hundreds of workers who will lose their jobs.

The Atlanta and Fairlawn closures harken back to Mondelēz’s shutdown of Oreo cookie production in Chicago. Before that shutdown, the food conglomerate declared it would keep the line open if the BCTGM local redid its contract to reduce wages and benefits for some 600 Oreo production line workers to near Mexican levels. When the workers refused, Mondelēz went ahead. The Chicago plant stopped producing Oreos, but still produces other snack foods.

BCTGM’s then-president David Durkee wrote to then-President Obama, also a Chicagoan, to ask him to intervene to stop the Chicago Oreo line closure and job loss. The old North American Free Trade Agreement encouraged moves to Mexico, BCTGM said then.

Obama did not publicly reply. Then-GOP presidential primary hopeful Donald Trump did. “Don’t buy Oreo cookies!” he urged crowds. A YouTube video posted by the Alliance for Retired Americans had a link showing consumers how to tell if Oreos—or other snack foods—are made in Mexico or in the United States. The story and the link, done after the Chicago closure, are still up. 

This time, Rep. Josh Gottheimer (D-N.J.), and three state lawmakers condemned the Fair Lawn shutdown, which is “leaving the community and 600 families in the lurch,” he said.

“These hardworking men and women literally just put their lives on the line during the pandemic, never missing a day so that Mondelēz could meet the skyrocketing demand for their products,” Gottheimer added. “It’s unfortunate the company didn’t consider the offer we presented to help them stay and rebuild their iconic facility and remain in the community. We will all miss the smell of the fresh-baked Oreos and other cookies that has wafted through Fair Lawn for the past six decades.”