Hundreds of workers who make and deliver Oreo cookies and Ritz crackers have gone on strike in a massive showdown with Nabisco parent company Mondelez.
The work stoppage and 24-hour picket lines began at a production facility in Portland, Oregon, last week and have now spread to a distribution hub in Aurora, Colorado, and another production facility in Richmond, Virginia. The workers are members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM), which hasn’t been able to reach an agreement with Mondelez on new contracts.
Workers and union representatives say the strike follows years of frustration with Mondelez, which was created in 2012 when Nabisco products were spun off from Kraft Foods. Mondelez is demanding changes to pay and health care coverage that would undermine what have long been solid, middle-class production and trucking jobs, they say.
“We’re not on strike to secure huge gains. We’re on strike to keep what we’ve already got,” said Cameron Taylor, the business agent at BCTGM Local 364, which represents workers at the Portland plant. “The job they want to give us wouldn’t even be worth fighting for.”
Taylor said Mondelez wants to ditch the premium pay system that’s long been in place and that guarantees time-and-a-half pay for working more than eight hours a day, time-and-a-half pay on Saturdays, and double time for working on Sundays. Instead, workers would be paid “straight time” until they hit a full 40-hours, regardless of what days they work or how long those days last.
Mondelez spokesperson Laurie Guzzinati said the company has proposed an “alternative work schedule” for some employees, who would work 12-hour shifts three or four days a week. The schedule would offer a three-day weekend every other week, Guzzinati said, while helping the company meet production on its most high-demand products.
The World Socialist Web Site calls on Volvo workers and all autoworkers to come to the support of the nearly 3,000 striking Volvo Trucks workers at the New River Valley (NRV) plant in Dublin, Virginia.
The Volvo workers have been on strike now for more than 10 days, following their overwhelming rejection, by 90 percent, of a second tentative agreement brought back by the United Auto Workers (UAW) union. The workers are demanding a significant increase in wages to make up for previous concessions, a cost-of-living escalator clause to meet the soaring cost of consumer goods, an end to the multitier wage and benefit system, the preservation of the eight-hour day, and full health care for current workers and retirees.
The Volvo workers at NRV face a war on two fronts. First, they are waging a battle against a multinational corporation with more than $50 billion in annual revenue and more than $4 billion in annual profits. Volvo management, with the support of the entire capitalist state, is determined to intensify the exploitation of workers to pay for the billions of dollars it is handing out to its major shareholders.
Following Sunday’s massive repudiation of the second sellout contract negotiated by the pro-corporate United Auto Workers, 3,000 workers at the Volvo Truck North America’s New River Valley Plant in Dublin, Virginia, are back on the picket line. Inasmuch as the struggle of the Volvo truck workers has been scarcely reported on in the national media and all but ignored in the publications of the middle-class pseudo-left organizations, it is necessary to provide a concise review of the events leading up to Sunday’s vote.
The UAW’s betrayal
Volvo workers originally went out on strike on April 17, determined to reverse the concessions that had been granted by the UAW to the Sweden-based transnational corporation over the last three contracts. Two weeks later, on April 30, the union bureaucracy announced that a settlement had been reached and ended the strike, without workers either seeing or voting on the contract.
Autoworkers: Form Rank-and-File Solidarity Committees to Break the Isolation of the Strike at Volvo Trucks!
The World Socialist Web Site calls for all Volvo workers and autoworkers to form rank-and-file solidarity committees to break the isolation of the ongoing strike at Volvo Trucks in Dublin, Virginia. These committees should prepare protests, slowdowns and other solidarity actions up to and including the shutdown of Volvo and the entire auto and truck manufacturing industry.
Stellantis workers in Detroit support striking Volvo workers (WSWS Media)
The nearly 3,000 workers at Volvo’s New River Valley (NRV) assembly plant are in the third week of their second walkout this year. Workers have rebelled against two attempts by the United Auto Workers (UAW) to force through a concessionary contract, rejecting both deals by an overwhelming 90-91 percent.
The Volvo workers have taken a heroic stand for the entire working class. They are fighting to reverse the pattern of endless givebacks and concessions, the establishment of multiple tiers, ten-hour workdays, and the attack on the health care of workers and retirees. They are demanding significant pay raises and a cost-of-living escalator clause to meet the soaring cost of consumer goods.
An Open Letter to UAW International President Rory Gamble, UAW Secretary-Treasurer Ray Curry and UAW Local 2069 President Matt Blondino
June 14, 2021
To Rory Gamble, Ray Curry and Matt Blondino:
On Monday, June 7, the UAW International called us, the workers of the Volvo Trucks New River Valley plant, out on strike for the second time in two months. The strike followed our rejection of the second tentative agreement with Volvo that you brought back for a vote. We rejected both the first and second tentative agreements by an overwhelming margin—90 to 91 percent.
We have now been on the picket lines for one week, but you have not told rank-and-file workers what the union is fighting for, how the next agreement will differ from the previous two and how the UAW intends to win this strike.