Mondelez International, the maker of Oreos and Chips Ahoy cookies, will start talks Friday with its labor unions to decide whether a bakery on Chicago’s South Side or a plant in Mexico gets a major upgrade.
At stake is a $130 million investment to install four new state-of-the-art manufacturing lines that would make Nabisco cookies and crackers, Mondelez spokeswoman Laurie Guzzinati said.
Mondelez officials will make their investment decision based on “a variety of factors” after the company’s discussions with the unions, she said, declining to provide further details.
Guzzinati declined to say whether Mondelez is seeking job cuts, pay concessions or other changes in its union contracts.
The unions at the Chicago plant, 7300 S. Kedzie Ave., are Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 300, with about 1,000 members; International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers District 8, representing about 105 employees; and International Union of Operating Engineers Local 399, which represents about 70 workers.
Although most Americans have never heard of Illinois-based global snack-food powerhouse, most are familiar with Mondelez International’s products.
The company, created in 2012 as a result of Kraft Foods’ spin off of its snack-food business, has brands that range from Barnum Crackers to Tang powdered drinks and many others known throughout the world.
Mondelez was formed through a series of mergers and acquisitions of some of America’s most famous food and snack companies and now employs people around the world, giving it extraordinary leverage in deciding where to invest capital.
As a “global powerhouse” (as it refers to itself on its website) that has two goals (“to achieve top-tier financial performance and make Mondelēz International a great place to work”), the company does not specify where it will make “a great place to work.”
This may mean that Mondelez’s decision on where to invest its $130 million will hinge on how amenable the unions are to what the company may be asking for.
It is worth noting, however, that one of its unions, the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers (BCTW), is the same union that helped cripple Hostess brands by striking, which (temporarily) killed off Twinkies.
If history repeats itself and the BCTW doesn’t want to play nice again, chances are, unless Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel makes Mondelez executives an offer they can’t refuse, the Oreo cookie may be following a lot of other confectioners south of the border.
Oh, and if you’re wondering how to say ‘Oreo’ in Spanish, you can click here to learn how.