Union reps of the employees who will lose their jobs early next year when what used to be the old Nabisco plant closes have not yet met with the Boulevard and Byberry facility’s owner to negotiate severance and other benefits.
John Lazar, president of the bakery workers union local, said his members are hoping that Mondelez International will put together some sort of job fair for employees.
Mondelez spokeswoman Laurie Guzzinati said that question and others would be linked to discussions with the union. Those talks, called “effects bargaining,” Lazar said, haven’t taken place yet because a union rep who would be involved recently had surgery.
Effects talks will include discussions of severance and job opportunities within the company for those who will be laid off.
“A lot of the guys are in their fifties,” Lazar said during an April 3 phone interview. “It’s going to be hard for them to find jobs.” He said he believes several are close to getting their pensions and would relocate to guarantee that.
He said he hopes the jobs fair idea, suggested at a recent union meeting, gets company backing.
“I can’t see them having a problem with that,” he said. “It would be cruel not to allow it.”
OLDER WORKERS’ WOES
“Many older, displaced workers have a negative re-employment outlook,” according to Tony Petrucci, assistant professor in Temple University’s Human Resource Management Department. That’s related to lower expectations, he wrote in an April 7 email to the Northeast Times.
Those who show an intensity in looking for new jobs and develop networking are likely to have stronger and more positive expectations “which has led to positive re-employment,” wrote Petrucci, who also is owner of the Philadelphia-based executive search firm Gravitas.
But it’s not just the older workers’ attitudes that get in their way, he stated. The Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has reported a steady rise in age discrimination over the years, he said.
“Research has supported these claims when comparing younger workers to older workers based on perceived competence, attractiveness, and behavioral intentions,” according to Petrucci. “Older workers also face labels such as lacking energy, showing a lack of engagement, and resistance to change and learning as well as cognitive deterioration.”
While disadvantaged by these opinions, older workers who are successful in the job market are those who have a positive attitude and “provide evidence they are open to change, embracing technology, are highly engaged and full of energy and not looking to coast out their final working years until retirement.”
Being positive is key, he said Monday, and that has to come off in phone interviews.
“You have to smile over the phone,” Petrucci said. You can’t talk about how you were wronged by your former employer because nobody really cares, he said. You have to let prospective employers know what you can do for them. It’s then they start considering the benefits of years of experience.
THE LAST YEAR
It’s been “business as usual” since Mondelez announced in February that it will close the plant early next year, Lazar said, but he feels the reality of that is “really starting to hit home with some people.”
The plant opened as a Nabisco bakery in the mid-1950s and, at one point, was the tallest building in the Northeast. Nabisco eventually was absorbed by Kraft, which split off its snack foods lines into Mondelez in late 2012. Among the foods Mondelez makes are Oreos, Teddy Grahams, Newtons, Cadbury chocolates and Tang.
In the fall, the company told its Northeast employees it was considering closing the facility and consolidating operations in New Jersey and Virginia. Guzzinati said the company was going to spend $130 million to expand facilities. Local officeholders immediately asked the company’s executives what they would require to keep Mondelez and its more than 350 employees in Philadelphia. There was a meeting of those officeholders and company executives, but nothing came of it, and the company announced in early February that it was going through with the closing. Union members dismissed the idea that the 350 jobs lost to Philadelphia would stay in the United States.
They claim Mondelez really is moving its operations to Mexico, where it already has a plant and is building another. Last week, Local 492 of the Bakery, Tobacco and Confectionery Workers’ Union bought a full-page ad in the Northeast Times in which the union charged the company was doing well and was motivated by greed. Moving to Mexico would mean paying a worker an average of $21 per day.
Earlier this year, Lazar said the Northeast plant’s employees make $24-$26 per hour.
In the local’s ad last week, the union urged consumers not to purchase any Mondelez products made in Mexico.
“By all means, please continue to buy American made Nabisco products,” the union stated, “because American workers are truly thankful for your support.”
Lazar said the company is bringing in people to look at the plant’s real estate value and also to assess the value of the equipment at the site. ••