ATLANTA, Ga. (CW69 News at 10) -- The Nabisco Bakery's 80-year presence in Atlanta on Murphy Avenue is coming to a close. Mondelēz International, who owns the brand, announced it plans to stop production at the Atlanta and Fair Lawn, New Jersey bakeries this summer. As a result, 400 Atlanta employees and will lose their jobs. The Fair Lawn closure will result in 600 job cuts. The announcement comes as everyone is already dealing with the uncertainty of the COVID-19 pandemic.
"It's devastating. I turned 55, been here 37 years and was looking forward to at least getting 5 more years," said Jeff Howard, who has been employed at the plant since high school. "They worked us seven days a week for the last year, and then what do we get? They tell us they're shutting down this year. Our pension's been in critical default, so I'm not hardly gonna get that."
"It's sad, because the company makes so much money, and we've worked the entire pandemic," said Travis Holmes, who has been employed there for 16 years.
The company issued a statement indicating geographic locations and outdated production capabilities led to the decision.
"Conversations will happen with salaried employees at both sites, whether that means other opportunities within other parts of the organization," said Laurie Guzzinati, a spokesperson and senior director of Corporate & Government Affairs in North America for Mondelēz Global LLC.
Guzzinati says salaried employees will get a severance and other benefits, and they'll meet with unions representing hourly employees to discuss their transitions. "It is certainly something that we con't take lightly. Thursday was a difficult day both for the company and for employees," she said. "We are committed to supporting any employees who are affected by this."
The company said in a statement:
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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