On March 23, the BCTGM — which represents nearly 4,000 members at Mondelez International, maker of Nabisco snack products — escalated its efforts to promote its “Check the Label” campaign. The action is in response to the layoff of the first 277 workers at the Southside Nabisco Chicago Bakery. The campaign encourages American consumers to reject Nabisco products made in Mexico and instead, buy those that are produced in America in support of American jobs. BCTGM will send teams of the laid off workers around the country, focusing on large urban areas, to meet with unions, social organizations, churches, state labor federations, and others to enhance support for the efforts and continue to expand its coalition.
“Today’s layoff of the first 277 employees from the Nabisco Chicago Bakery should not be seen as the end of the Union’s effort to save these American jobs, but rather the launch of an intensified effort to educate the American consumer on the transfer of this work from the hard working employees of Chicago to low wage jobs at Nabisco’s production facility in Salinas Victoria, Mexico,” said David B. Durkee, International President of the BCTGM. “We will send teams of these laid off workers to talk to thousands in multiple communities across America to tell their story, redoubling our efforts on their behalf to educate the American consumer regarding the importance of withholding their consumer dollars from the purchase of Nabisco’s Mexican-made products.”
Mondelez, the owner of the Nabisco brand, told workers at the Chicago bakery back in May of 2015 that they would consider putting new technology in Chicago if the workers would take a 60 percent reduction in wages and benefits or 46 million dollars per year every year into the future to secure a $130,000,000 investment.
“They made an offer that was so ridiculous they knew it could never be accepted,” Durkee added. “American workers cannot compete with workers in Mexico making $60 per week with little or no benefits. Nabisco’s plans to lay off American workers, put their jobs in Mexico and then return the products to the United States to sell is the ultimate insult to both the American worker and consumer. They want the American consumer to support them by purchasing their products, but they have no loyalty to any country, community, or worker that has contributed to their billions in profits in the past. By dispatching boycott education teams to inform consumers that every dollar denied to the purchase of these products supports American jobs, we’ll send a loud and clear message to this company via their balance sheet, effectively making no benefit for Nabisco to run those plants in Mexico. This is not over, and will not be over, as long as this company continues to destroy families and communities by moving work from the United States to these low wage countries.”
The National contract between Mondelez International and over 2,000 of its 4,000 workers represented by the BCTGM, expired on February 29, 2016. BCTGM continues to be resolute in its commitment to securing a quality contract for its members – one that is in the very best interests of all members and their families today and into the future.
For more information about announced job losses in Chicago, visit: http://www.fightforamericanjobs.org/. ■
Matthew McDearmon, AFGE BOP
When Matthew McDearmon sat down at his new employee orientation at the Bureau of Prisons, he wasn’t expecting to become an official in his local union – much less the 300,000th member of the American Federation of Government Employees (AFGE).
McDearmon, an Air Force veteran and correctional officer at Administrative U.S. Penitentiary Thomson, knows the power of teamwork and the value of speaking up together. To him, joining the union with his colleagues was just the beginning of making a better workplace for current employees and creating a brighter future for the next generation of public servants.
“I think it’s good to be a part of something that’s bigger than yourself,” he said. “You can learn the issues that are going on within the institution and the area. Hopefully you can help solve any disconnects between yourself and the management.”
At the orientation, McDearmon heard his coworkers’ plan to make the worksite more safe, and he liked their ideas. Then, he got involved. ■
The International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers (IAMAW) is a large and diverse organization, representing 720,000 members across North America. Newly sworn in President, Robert Martinez, Jr., is the 14th International President in the union’s 128 year history.
Formed in 1888 in Atlanta, GA, the IAM represents workers in more than 200 industries with most of its membership located in the U.S. and Canada.
Originally called the Order of United Machinists and Mechanical Engineers, the organizational name was changed in 1891 to the International Association of Machinists and again changed adding Aerospace Workers in 1964. The IAM is now headquartered in Upper Marlboro, MD. ■
The split decision in the Friedrich’s case, an unveiled attack on public unions by rightwing opponents to collective bargaining, produced a stalemate which leaves those rights as they were. In the event that the Supreme Court cannot reach a decision, the lower court ruling stands. Therefore, public unions can continue to represent their members and to collect dues to meet union expenses.
The absence of the late Justice Antonin Scalia from the Supreme Court was the key to this quasi-victory. To maintain public employee bargaining rights and to keep public employee unions strong, a progressive replacement for Scalia on the Supreme Court is needed. Undoubtedly, the anti-union element will try again to reverse earlier decisions affirming these rights. To make the victory secure, a more progressive Supreme Court is needed.
Hence, the importance of November’s presidential election. The next president will name judges to federal courts at every level. And who knows, maybe President Obama’s nominee to replace Scalia will eventually be seated. If not, the Supreme Court seat and all it implies for union rights will be hugely important in 2017.
Finally, kudos to Secretary of Labor Tom Perez and the Obama administration for the new union persuader rule that requires the identification of consultants hired by companies to defeat union organizing campaigns. Such activities should be known to employees.
The Obama administration, friendly to unions, their members and potential members, produced the persuader rule. An unfriendly administration could reverse it. One more indication of the presidential election’s importance. ■
When the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Friedrichs v. the California Teacher Association, ended in a 4-4 tie, public-sector unions breathed a collective sigh of relief. Since its initial filing in 2013, labor activists feared the case could deal a crippling blow to public-sector unions throughout the country.
“The judgement is affirmed by an equally divided court,” the justices wrote in a brief, unsigned ruling.
The suit, filed by Rebecca Friedrichs and nine other California teachers, argued that the state’s agency-fee system violated their First Amendment rights by forcing them to subsidize “political activities they don’t support.”
Under California labor law, public employees vote to designate a union as their exclusive collective bargaining representative. The employees cannot be forced to join the union, and those who choose not to are required to pay a lesser “agency fee,” also known as a fair share fee, to help fund the administrative costs incurred by the union in support of collective bargaining activities. The lesser fee helps avoid a free-rider problem where employees benefit from the union’s representation without paying to support it.
The split vote left in place the 1977 decision in Abood v. Detroit Board of Education that set the basis for public employee contracts.
In a statement issued about the ruling from the AFL-CIO, President Rich Trumka said: “[T]oday, working people have persevered in the face of another attack on our rights. All over the country working people are showing that we won’t allow wealthy special interests or their politicians to stand in our way to join collectively and make workplaces better all across America. In the face of these attacks we are more committed than ever to ensuring that everyone has the right to speak up together for a better life.”
This likely won’t be the end of this case for public-sector unions however. Court watchers agree that once the court is back to a full bench, that the plaintiffs will likely ask for the case to be reheard. ■