For the second time in the past three months, workers at an American snack company went on strike. In July, a strike at a Frito-Lay factory caught America’s attention – and workers won basic standards like safe shift lengths and better pay. Then, workers at Nabisco bakeries and distribution centers across the country went on strike – and they won hourly wage increases and better benefits.
During the strike, Nabisco workers explained that they’ve been subject to low pay and poor working conditions: Employees were forced to work up to 16-hour days without overtime pay and to take on weekend shifts in sweltering conditions. Plus, the company has outsourced jobs to Mexico, shifted pension plans to stingy 401(k)s, and called on employees to pay more for health care in the middle of a pandemic.
The worst part is, Nabisco investors and executives are raking in MILLIONS off the backs of these workers. The snack food industry has seen a major increase in sales during the pandemic – and Nabisco is one of the biggest companies in the sector. In December of 2020, the board of Mondelēz International, which owns Nabisco, approved a total of $6 billion in stock buybacks, enriching shareholders with no strings attached. And last year, Mondelēz CEO Dirk Van de Put received over $11 million in stocks and stock options, in addition to the nearly $5 million he earned in pay and bonuses.
After weeks of national strikes, Nabisco finally agreed to raise worker pay by 2.25 percent this year, increase their 401(k) match and update workplace policies. We're thrilled that workers fought and won. But even though the strikers marginally improved their working conditions, it's clear that there's a larger issue at play here. Between Nabisco and Frito-Lay, there’s a common theme: as sales increase, the only people seeing that profit are the super-rich shareholders and executives at the top – while the working conditions for factory employees get even worse.
But there’s hope: Workers across the country are refusing to work for exploitative companies. On a recent episode of the "Pitchfork Economics" podcast, Kansas State Representative Jason Probst said the Frito-Lay strike showed workers "have had their fill, and they're tired of giving up their lives for substandard wages and sacrificing their quality of life so that somebody else can make outsized profits."
As more and more people quit their jobs to find better workplaces, worker power continues to grow. Executives who enrich themselves and their wealthiest investors without raising wages and benefits are at the risk of finding themselves on the wrong side of a picket line. Workers at Frito-Lay and Nabisco are making the terms of their employment clear: Pay up now, or suffer the consequences and pay more later.
The public is quickly shifting its opinion on exploitative CEOs – but we need to know what YOU think. We’re running a live poll to find out what people across the country REALLY think about companies like Nabisco. Please, tell us now:
Do you agree that companies like Nabisco should be required to pay their workers a living wage, assign reasonable shifts, and provide humane working conditions?
Thanks for helping us defend American workers from exploitative labor practices.