Bakery plant to close in southwest Atlanta after nearly 80 years

More than 400 jobs will be lost when the Mondelez International Nabisco manufacturing plant closes its doors this summer.

The news came Thursday afternoon when the company gathered its employees under a huge tent in the company parking lot after 80 years of operation.

"I am kind of upset. It's not a good thing. I have been here 37 years," one employee said.

Another employee was more blunt.

"It sucks. I just turned 55 years old. I got 37 years, my daughter is finishing college. This sucks," a male employee complained.

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"At this point, we are very stressed. It doesn't look good," another employee said with a worried face.

"With COIVD-19. I don't know who is going to hire me right now," the woman concluded

The snack baking company has a long history in Atlanta. It first opened its doors in 1941. Employees said the union based jobs pay from $50,000 up to $150,000.

Mondelez International announced the closing of the Atlanta and New Jersey plants on Thursday and indicated they are committed to the US, but employees and even the union are suspicious.

"Mexico, everything is going to Mexico. The government has got to do something about it...stop sending our jobs to Mexico," one man proclaimed.

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Mr. David Cooper is the business manager for Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers' International Union Local 42. He said he had seen the company execute this playback before.

"In 2016, they cut 600 jobs in Chicago and sent them to Mexico. The reason they say they need to close is they can't grow. They have 46 acres over there. They definitely have room to expand. That is just an excuse. If you go to the store and look at the products and read the labels on Nabisco products, it says ‘Mexico,’" Mr. Cooper insisted.

The company released the following statement about its decision:

"Mondelēz International (Nasdaq: MDLZ) today announced that it will be closing its Fair Lawn, NJ and Atlanta, GA biscuit bakeries later this year. The decision comes as the company further focuses its U.S. biscuit manufacturing footprint to better meet changing consumer needs and growth opportunities. The company will focus its U.S. biscuit operations on strategically-located owned-and-operated bakeries on the East Coast, Midwest and West Coast of the United States – in Richmond, VA, Chicago/Naperville, IL, and Portland, OR. These owned-and-operated sites will be further supported by U.S.-based external manufacturing, which has been an important part of the Company’s U.S. biscuit manufacturing network for many decades. Today’s decision follows Mondelēz International’s previous announcement, made last November, that it was considering closing its Fair Lawn and Atlanta bakeries. Both Fair Lawn and Atlanta are no longer strategic assets from a geographic footprint perspective, and both face significant operational challenges, including aging infrastructure and outdated production capabilities, which would have required significant investment to bring them to the modernized state required for the future.

"‘This was not an easy decision to make, but as we continue to strengthen our leadership in snacking and address changing consumer behaviors, we must focus on sites that are best positioned to meet our future needs,’ said Glen Walter, Executive Vice President & President, North America. ‘We understand the impact this will have on our colleagues at these bakeries, many of whom have been with our company for many years, and we will dedicate ourselves to working with the unions and our employees to ensure that they will be cared for and supported through this transition.’

"Salaried employees will receive severance and other benefits, including outplacement services and other transition support. Transition support for hourly employees, including severance and other benefits, are subject to effects bargaining with the Unions representing those employees. The Company has reached out to the Unions and hopes to begin those discussions very soon.

"The closures of the Atlanta and Fair Lawn bakeries will proceed in a phased approach, and production is expected to cease at both sites this summer. Though details of manufacturing transition plans are still being finalized, production from Atlanta and Fair Lawn will shift to other Mondelēz owned-and-operated bakeries in the U.S. and U.S.-based external manufacturing. As part of this, the Oreo manufacturing ‘Line of the Future’ and Oreo cookie grind production currently in Fair Lawn will be moved to the company’s biscuit bakery in Richmond, VA. Mondelēz International has a significant business presence in the United States, which is the largest market for the company globally, including in its global headquarters in Chicago, Illinois and its North American headquarters in East Hanover, New Jersey. The company remains committed to the United States, as well as to robust U.S. biscuit manufacturing. No U.S. jobs will go to Mexico related to these two closures and U.S. biscuit production levels will be maintained."

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