March 1, 2016
By Steven Wishnia and Neal Tepel
Chicago, IL – The Nabisco plant on Chicago’s Southwest Side was once a bulwark of black working-class prosperity, but the company’s plan to lay off half of the 1,200 employees as it moves operations to Mexico will be “devastating,” workers say. “I have one daughter in college now and another one aspiring to go to college,” said Titus Banks, 53, whose last day will be March 21.
Sabrina Pope, 58, a processor and baker who has worked at the plant for 35 years, says she won’t be able to live on just her husband’s paycheck. The couple’s son wants to go to college, and they are taking care of her mother, who worked at Nabisco for 46 years. The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers & Grain Millers Union Local 300 has filed a federal lawsuit and an Equal Employment Opportunity Commission complaint against Mondelez, Nabisco’s parent company, charging that the layoffs are racial and age discrimination. Union campaign coordinator Ron Baker said the company told workers last year that they could keep their jobs if they made concessions that would match the $46 million the company claims it will save by putting new equipment in Mexico, but that would mean a 60% reduction in pay and benefits. “We got 86 percent of the people over age 40; we got 70 to 75 percent that are minority,” Baker said. “This is the only plant that has numbers like that where they actually asked these people to pay for their own capital investments. When they didn’t, they sent their jobs away.” Read more