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When it comes to Nabisco jobs, Trump, Clinton, Sanders all agree

On March 14, Hillary Clinton, joined by Jethro Head of the The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, second from left, visited union members affected by Nabisco's Chicago layoffs. AP photo

Throughout the bruising presidential campaign, rivals Donald Trump, Hillary Clinton and Bernie Sanders have agreed on, and been outspoken about, opposing Nabisco’s move to shift jobs from a Chicago plant to Mexico.

Trump often cites the issue in campaign speeches, and Nabisco also has come up in several of the Republican debates.

“I always say I’m not having Oreos anymore,” Trump said last month, referring to one of the iconic brands baked at the Nabisco plant at 7300 S. Kedzie, which is part of Deerfield-based Mondelēz International.

The day before the March 15 Illinois primary, Clinton met in a small apartment across the street from the Nabisco plant with local leaders of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union to discuss the job cuts, which began in March.

“I wanted to come by and talk with some of the workers and their representatives to really get a firsthand understanding of what is going on and to really figure out how we can stop this,” Clinton said. “It is imperative that we do more to keep jobs here.”

And Sanders sent his top labor adviser, Larry Cohen, to Chicago to huddle with union leaders outside the plant on March 2. The loss of American jobs to nations where labor is cheaper — and the impact of U.S. trade pacts — has been a centerpiece of Sanders’ campaign.

The same day, the Cook County Board passed a resolution sponsored by Jesus “Chuy” Garcia, Sanders’ most prominent supporter in Illinois, “calling on Nabisco and its parent company Mondelēz International to continue its relationship with the South Side of Chicago.”

“Our trade policy encourages Nabisco to move the work,” Cohen said in an interview Thursday. “It is not an accident that the trade policy of the United States encourages companies to go wherever it’s cheapest. And Bernie has been against every trade deal that has been done, including NAFTA.”

President Bill Clinton signed the North American Free Trade Agreement at the end of 1993, with top aides Bill Daley and now-Mayor Rahm Emanuel — who each went on to be chief of staff for President Barack Obama — leading the Clinton White House’s push to get Congress to approve the deal. Hillary Clinton has since distanced herself from NAFTA.

It’s more than international trade policy that’s now at issue.

The Cook County resolution noted that in 1993, the bakery, then run by the Nabisco Biscuit Company, received “tax incentives reaching upwards of 90 million dollars” from the city and the state of Illinois to stay in Chicago.

On the campaign stump, Clinton now is saying: Give that money back.

At a Democratic debate in Flint, Michigan, Clinton said, “You know, when a company decides to leave, like Nabisco is leaving, and they have gotten tax benefits from Chicago and Illinois to stay there, I will claw back the benefits. They will have to pay them back if they are leaving a place that actually invested in them.”