Monday, December 22, 2014

Northeast Philly Oreo, Ritz plant in shutdown talks: UPDATE

Hundreds could lose their jobs at Mondelez

Northeast Philly Oreo, Ritz plant in shutdown talks: UPDATE

The former Kraft Foods plant in Northeast Philadelphia is now part of Mondelez. (Michael Bryant / Staff Photographer)
The former Kraft Foods plant in Northeast Philadelphia is now part of Mondelez. (Michael Bryant / Staff Photographer)

Mondelez International, the Chicago snack bakery chain formerly part of Kraft International, has "begun ongoing discussions with the union" about closing the former Kraft plant that makes and ships Oreos, Ritz and many other cookies and crackers on Roosevelt Blvd at Byberry Rd. Northeast Philadelphia, company spokeswoman Laurie Guzzinati told me. It's the latest blow to the city's once-thriving industrial snacks industry: Bankrupt Hostess Foods closed its own Northeast Philly bakery a year ago. 

"We would like to invest more than $100 million in Fairlawn, N.J. and in Richmond, Va. where we have bakeries," and "consolidate" Kraft operations at those sites, which would mean closing the Philadelphia plant, said Guzzinati. But first, the company is negotiating with the Bakery, Tobacco and Confectionary Workers' Union, which represents workers at all three plants, and three others. The company won't say if it wants lower wages, pension or healthcare cuts, or changes in work rules in exchange for saving Philly jobs. No final decision has been made, the company says.

"I think this is corporate greed. They closed a plant in Canada last month and laid off 550 workers and moved the work to Mexico. I think they're going to try to do that with us, too," John Lazar, leader of BCT Local 492, told me. His local represents 275 active workers and 100 currently laid off at the plant. A shutdown would also end jobs for self-employed truckers and for Mondelez office workers.

-- Joseph N. Distefano #Inq

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Joseph N. DiStefano
About this blog

PhillyDeals posts raw drafts and updates of Joseph N. DiStefano's columns and stories about Philly-area finance, investment, commercial real estate, tech, hiring and public spending, which he's been writing since 1989, mostly for the Philadelphia Inquirer.

DiStefano studied economics, history and a little engineering at Penn, taught writing at St. Joe's, and has written the book Comcasted, more than a thousand columns, and thousands of articles, and raised six children with his wife, who is a saint.

Reach Joseph N. at JoeD@phillynews.com or 215 854 5194.

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