“They quit me. I didn’t quit them,” Mary Willis said about the Nabisco bakery on the South Side of Chicago. She was among hundreds of workers laid off in March when Mondelēz International, Nabisco’s parent company, decided to move its cookie and cracker production lines from Chicago to Mexico.
Last year, Mondelēz executives approached the workers about the investments needed to keep the bakery open and then placed the burden on the workers. They then asked them to give up 60% of their wages and benefits in perpetuity or have their jobs moved to Mexico.
Meanwhile, Irene Rosenfeld, the Mondelēz CEO, received a $7 million raise in 2014. (She received nearly $20 million in compensation in 2015.) Working families and our communities once again bear the brunt of corporate greed.
Willis, a member of Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) Local 300, is all too familiar with the feeling of loss when your job is outsourced or when a company files for bankruptcy protection, only to restructure.
She worked at the Hostess Brands Schiller Park bakery for 10 years and was devastated, in 2012, when bankruptcy proceedings shuttered the plant and eliminated the livelihoods of 300 workers. Before that, she worked at the Chicago Entenmann’s bakery, which eventually moved production out of Chicago and closed the plant for good. And before that, she worked at Brach’s—the historic, sprawling Chicago candy production plant—until the 1990s, when the company moved the jobs to Mexico.
“It seems that hard work doesn’t matter anymore. This is the corporate attitude. And it used to be that places like Nabisco were proud places to work, but now workers like me are tossed to the curb despite years of dedication,” Willis said.