City Council passes resolution to boycott Oreos

On Thursday, City Council passed a resolution introduced by Councilmen Brian O’Neill and Bill Greenlee to support a boycott of foreign-made Nabisco products.

Mondelez International closed its Nabisco bakery on Roosevelt Boulevard in the Northeast in 2015. TIMES FILE PHOTO

The next time the Girl Scouts come knocking at City Hall, folks might want to stock up on some cookies because from now on, it’ll be a no-go zone for Oreos.

On Thursday, City Council passed a resolution introduced by Councilmen Brian O’Neill and Bill Greenlee to support a boycott of foreign-made Nabisco products and its sister brands under the Mondelez International corporate umbrella.

According to O’Neill, the measure is a response to Mondelez’ July 2015 closure of its Nabisco bakery on Roosevelt Boulevard in the Northeast, and a show of solidarity with workers at a Mondelez plant in Chicago who are facing similar circumstances.

“The AFL-CIO asked me to introduce it and it has more to do with standing in unison with Chicago, where they still have a plant and are still worried about it closing,” O’Neill told the Northeast Times. “But this is a position I’ve been taking since they announced they were leaving the Boulevard. They turned their back on everybody. I have no time for Mondelez or their products.”

Council passed the resolution unanimously one week after O’Neill, a Republican from the 10th district, and Greenlee, an at-large Democrat, introduced it.

The language states that the 2015 plant closure left 350 local workers unemployed. It accuses Mondelez of moving the work to a new plant in Monterrey, Mexico, “where wages can be as low as $4 a day.” Mondelez claimed at the time that it was moving the work to more modern bakeries in New Jersey and Virginia.

Before announcing the plant closure, the company demanded that workers accept “$46 million in wage and benefit cuts annually in perpetuity,” according to the resolution, but workers refused the givebacks. O’Neill, U.S. Rep. Brendan Boyle and other elected officials attempted to mediate the negotiations.

“When Congressman Boyle was a state representative, we worked on this together in a lot of meetings. It didn’t prove successful, but we learned a lot about how they were operating,” O’Neill said. “They took us for a ride.”

After the plant closed, Boyle — by then a freshman congressman — spoke from the floor of the U.S. House and called for a boycott of Mondelez products. He employed a poster depicting an Oreo cookie with a red circle and line transposed over it as a visual aid.

During the 2016 presidential campaign, Donald Trump said he wouldn’t eat Oreos anymore, while Hillary Clinton met privately with workers from the Mondelez bakery in Chicago and Bernie Sanders sent an adviser to join workers in a demonstration outside the Chicago facility.

On the campaign trail, Clinton called for Mondelez to repay close to $90 million in tax breaks that Nabisco got in 1993 for keeping its bakery in Chicago. At the time, the facility employed 2,400. By March 2016, the bakery had 1,200 employees and the company announced plans to cut that figure in half.

Last February, the Chicago Tribune reported that Mondelez issued 429 layoff notices there and later recalled 120 of those workers. The company achieved additional staffing reductions through retirements and other departures. ••

William Kenny can be reached at 215–354–3031 or wkenny@bsmphilly.com. Follow the Times on Twitter @NETimesOfficial.