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Minority Lawmakers Support Strikers

Demand fairness for Portland Nabisco workers

8/26/2021, 12:11 p.m.
Oregon lawmakers of color are demanding fairness for striking employees at northeast Portland’s Nabisco plant.
Workers from the Nabisco plant in northeast Portland go on strike. Photo from Portland Jobs for Justice Facebook page.
Oregon lawmakers of color are demanding fairness for striking employees at northeast Portland’s Nabisco plant.

In a letter this week  to the chief executive officer of Mondelez International, the owner of Nabisco brands, all 12 members of the Oregon Legislature’s Black, Indigenous and People of Color (BIPOC) Caucus, asked the corporation to negotiate a fair contract with the members of Oregon’s Nabisco Workers Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers’ Union.


About 200 workers at the Portland factory went on strike this month and within days workers in Colorado, Virginia and Illinois joined the strike to advocate for a contract that provides fair wages, benefits and working conditions. Workers are also fighting for a commitment to keep jobs in the United States following the closure of factories in Georgia and New Jersey.


“We understand that in recent years, Mondelez has eliminated union pension contributions and switched to 401K retirement plans. Now, there are conversations about eliminating premium pay for weekend work and daily overtime pay and rolling back health care benefits,” said the letter to Mondelez Chief Executive Officer Dirk Van de Put.


The minority lawmakers, all Democrats, described their goals of advancing racial justice through policy change and advocacy for community investments.


"At the cornerstone of this racial justice work is advocating for good paying jobs, benefits, and economic opportunities, particularly for marginalized communities who have been working on the frontlines throughout this pandemic," the letter says.

“We must honor the sacrifices of frontline workers with a commitment to creating safer working conditions and fair pay for their work. We have heard stories of workers who have been working from 12 days in a row – up to 30 days in a row – before and during the pandemic.


“As state legislators, we call on Mondelez to honor the workers who have helped make this company profitable through a global pandemic: by keeping quality jobs in NE Portland and not offshore, to invest in this community and the historically and currently marginalized community members who work there, and to make sure the workers have predictable, fair, and justly compensated work with family-supporting benefits.”


The letter is signed by Reps. Janelle Bynum, Khanh Pham, Teresa Alonso León, Wlnsvey Campos, Andrea Salinas, Mark Meek, Tawna Sanchez, Andrea Valderrama, and Ricki Ruiz; and Sens. Lew Frederick, James I. Manning Jr., and Kayse Jama.