Cargill notified Teamsters Local 200 that they will be putting 38 workers out of work from its Cocoa and Chocolate plant in Milwaukee, USA during these unprecedented times. The company has decided to outsource part of its shipping and packaging operation.
The Milwaukee operation has nearly 180 Teamsters union members at the 12,500 West Carmen facility and has been covered under a Teamster collective bargaining agreement for eight decades.
Thomas J. Bennett, Teamsters Local 200 Secretary/Treasurer said,
At 8:18 a.m. on Tuesday, Local 200 was orally presented a disturbing announcement that places hardworking Teamsters out of work during a pandemic. These impacted members have questions and the company has neglected to fully share with the union facts surrounding this announcement.
The employer’s unorthodox notification to the union—by orally announcing their intentions to the union and then 30 minutes later displacing Teamsters—is like nothing seen before at Local 200. We are a week away from scheduled bargaining and the employer taking this action attacking the livelihood of hardworking Teamsters and their families is not a good start to the process.
The company has not fully complied with the union’s information request surrounding the announcement and the members are seeking further information in writing. Local 200 is using the grievance process to protect the members’ rights under the collective bargaining agreement.
The Union have more than an 80-year history in this industry, working for Cargill Cocoa & Chocolate and several predecessor companies that produced chocolate at the facility. The Teamster members in Milwaukee produce chocolate products that are consumed around the globe.
In a slightly ominous statement, Teamsters Secretary-Treasurer Thomas Bennet said,
It is beyond egregious for this profitable company to announce they’re going to put workers on the street during a pandemic. We are going to fight for our members; we call on this company to reverse its dangerous announcement.
The global pandemic has surely affected everyone around the round in many sectors. Cargill is the largest private company in the United States by revenue. It is concerning to see Cargill has also been in the news for poor conditions for workers who contracted and even died from COVID-19 at its meatpacking facilities.
A spokesperson for Cargill’s US operation has since responded and said,
After a comprehensive evaluation of our production process, the Cargill Milwaukee Cocoa and Chocolate facility has decided to outsource its packaging and shipping functions to two local companies to perform these services.
This action allows the business to focus on the areas of production where it excels and that provide the greatest benefit to our customers.
Unfortunately, this resulted in a number of difficult decisions being made, including the elimination of 38 positions, effective January 5, 2021. We regret the impact this has on these employees and their families. Cargill is working with impacted employees through this transition.