Nabisco workers end strike in Chicago, other cities

Ratification of a 4-year agreement will put 345 Chicago-area employees back on the job, ending a walkout that began in August.

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A picket sign outside the Nabisco plant at 7300 S. Kedzie Ave. in August.

Tyler LaRiviere/Sun-Times file photo

Nabisco workers have overwhelmingly ratified a contract to end a strike that started more than a month ago in Portland, Oregon, and spread to other five locations, including a bakery on Chicago’s Southwest Side.

The four-year agreement, retroactive to March 1, applies to about 1,000 workers in the United States. Nabisco owner Mondelez International said the contract includes a ratification bonus, hourly wage increases each year, an increased company match for 401(k) accounts and “flexible work schedules” to resolve a contentious issue over required weekend work for busy production lines.

Neither the company nor the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union released the vote count. April Flowers-Lewis, a union steward who has been involved in the strike at 7300 S. Kedzie Ave., said the nationwide vote was 590 to 201 in favor of the agreement.

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The strike had idled 325 workers at the Chicago plant and another 20 at a distribution site in Addison. Mondelez provided a statement from Executive Vice President Glen Walter, who said the new contract continues good wages and benefits while “positioning our U.S. bakeries and sales distribution facilities for future growth and success.”

The company asked Chicago workers to attend meetings Tuesday at a Midway Airport-area hotel to hear about back-to-work procedures. The bakery makes Chips Ahoy, Wheat Thins, Nutter Butter cookies and belVita breakfast biscuits.

Union President Anthony Shelton said in a statement, “The BCTGM’s striking members made enormous sacrifices in order to achieve a quality contract that preserves our union’s high standards for wages, hours and benefits for current and future Nabisco workers. Their sacrifice will benefit all BCTGM members and working people around the country for years to come.”

Shelton has said his members were fighting for jobs that support a strong middle class and that other employers were watching closely.

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