November 14, 2016
By Silver Krieger
New York, NY – BCTGM, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, is in the middle of a war. The union represents nearly 4,000 workers at Mondelez International, the maker of Nabisco snack products, which has outsourced the production of Oreos from Chicago to Salinas, Mexico, leaving hundreds of Americans without work.
Recently, BCTGM announced that its “Check the Label” campaign, which asks consumers to boycott the products made by the company in Mexico, will make colleges and universities all over America the next focus of its outreach.
“There are over twenty million college students, and five thousand colleges and university campus, with a demographic that understands better than most people the problems they face in the future,” said Ron Baker, Strategic Campaign Coordinator for BCTGM. “I was at Villanova [University, in Pennsylvania] a week ago, and they understand that jobs are moving across oceans and borders, and that this is not conducive to their career opportunities. They are concerned about the global impact of so few having so much and so many having so little. They are also consumers, and probably consumers that consume more than most.”
These multiple points of engagements will intersect with the startling facts they will learn about Mondelez’s current moves. In July 2015, Nabisco revealed it was investing an additional $130 million in its new $400 million plant in Salinas, Mexico, rather that investing in its plant in Chicago. As a result of that, 600 workers in Chicago will lose their jobs. Additionally, the students will learn that the minimum wage in Mexico is $4.19 a day.
“In the past,” says Baker, “when corporations wanted to increase profits, employers and labor came together to work on a solution. We needed each other. Now, they look south of the border or to India and China and say, “We don’t have to seek solutions. If we don’t get what we want, we’ll just go to $4.19 a day.”
Students also are now aware of the connection between wages in lower-paying jobs and those on a higher scale. “When you eliminate a factory job, you drive all the high-paying jobs down too,” says Baker. “When I talked at Villanova, I asked students if they knew former students with degrees in business or accounting who have debt, and who now can’t get jobs, because they are outsourced to India. Many did.”
“The plain fact is that companies have a business model that needs the U.S. consumer to buy into it,” he continues. “We consume 25% of everything made on this planet. They want us to be 100% involved in the consumption, and 0% involved in the production. Americans are left with no jobs. Unable to participate as vibrant and robust consumers, the whole business model falls apart.”
BCTGM plans to get the word out in multiple ways: via teach-ins at college campuses, flyers, and social media. So next time a student reaches for a bag of Oreos to consume while pulling an all-nighter, she will hopefully pause to “Check the Label” and make a choice not just for the night, but for her future.