Mondelez, Union Ink 4-year Contract

Union workers voted overwhelmingly to accept a new collective bargaining agreement that ends a month-long strike across facilities in five states.

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HENRICO, Va. (AP) — Striking union members voted to accept a new four-year collective bargaining agreement with snack company Mondelez International, ending a walkout that began last month.

The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union announced the results of the vote Saturday, after voting Thursday and Friday, The Richmond Times-Dispatch reported.

The ratification ends a walkout by more than 1,000 hourly employees at a Virginia plant, bakeries in Portland, Oregon, and in Chicago, and three distribution centers across the country. The workers were seeking increased pay, improved benefits and better working conditions.

About 400 workers at the plant in Henrico, Virginia, that makes foods like Oreo cookies, Ritz crackers and Chips Ahoy! cookies started striking Aug. 16. The plant had been owned by Nabisco and later by Kraft Foods Inc. It now is part of Mondelez, which was created when Kraft Foods split into two companies in 2012.

“I’m ecstatic,” said Darlene Carpenter, the business agent for the union’s Local 358. “This is a major win. We have been like David, who took down Goliath because people stood up for their beliefs.”

Current and future employees maintained insurance benefits in the new contract, Carpenter said. The company had proposed a two-tier health plan and wanted workers to pay more for health care. Company proposals for a new alternative work schedule and getting rid of premium pay for working weekends were also rejected, Carpenter said.

Workers get a $5,000 ratification bonus, increased company match to 401(k) contributions and raises each year of the contract, Carpenter said.

“This has been a long and difficult fight for our striking members, their families and our union,” Anthony Shelton, the union’s international president, said in a statement.

The company was pleased the union ratified the contracts, Mondelez International Executive Vice President and North America operations President Glen Walter said.

“Our goal has always been to reach agreements that would provide our union-represented colleagues with good wages and competitive benefits, while also positioning our U.S. bakeries and sales distribution facilities for future growth and success,” Walter said in a statement.

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