Striking union workers at Mondelez International Inc.’s bakery plants, including one in eastern Henrico County, have reached a tentative contract agreement with the company that could end the walkout.
Mondelez, one of the world’s largest snack companies, and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union issued separate statements Wednesday afternoon saying that the bargaining committee had reached a tentative deal.
Neither the company nor the union would discuss terms in the proposal.
“In the coming days, the local union officers on the bargaining committee will present the tentative agreement to their respective memberships who will then vote on the agreement,” Anthony Shelton, the union’s international president, said in a statement. “I want to thank and commend all of the members of the bargaining committee for their many, many hours of extremely hard work to reach this tentative agreement. As always in our union, the members will have the final say on the contract.”
Mondelez spokesperson Laurie M. Guzzinati emphasized that the tentative agreement on new contracts “has been fully recommended by both parties.”
Employees will have the opportunity to vote on ratifying the new contracts in the coming days, the company said. It is uncertain when a vote will take place.
More than 400 hourly employees at the plant on Laburnum Avenue — and at Mondelez bakeries in Portland, Ore., and in Chicago, as well as at three distribution centers across the country — have been on strike since last month, seeking increased pay, improved benefits and better working conditions. A total of more than 1,000 workers have been striking.
Mondelez and the union have been negotiating a new four-year contract since the old one expired at the end of May. Both sides met on Monday and Tuesday, which led to the tentative deal late Tuesday night.
The strike has caught the attention of the new president of the AFL-CIO union federation, who met with about two dozen workers at the Henrico plant last week.
“They’re taking tremendous courage to walk out and walk these picket lines because they know if they don’t take a stand, then wages and conditions continue to erode and that has an effect on everyone in this country,” said Liz Shuler, who started leading the AFL-CIO last month following the death of longtime President Richard Trumka. “We are fed up with the way you have been treated.”
The Henrico plant makes popular snack foods such as Oreo cookies, Ritz crackers and Chips Ahoy! cookies.
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.