After End of Cookie Smell in Northeast, Congressman Calls Out Oreo Maker

Rep. Boyle: 300 layoffs is a microcosm of the shrinking middle class.

The Northeast Philly Nabisco building

(Image via Google Street View)

U.S. Rep Brendan Boyle is leading the charge against Mondolez International, the company that recently closed its long-running plant on Roosevelt Blvd., permanently removing that sweet cookie smell from Far Northeast Philly.

The closure left more than 300 people unemployed.

Flanked by a “Say No to Oreo” sign, Boyle made a passionate speech on the floor of the House of Representatives on Thursday.

“The company that makes Oreo cookies and Ritz crackers, two very well-known American brands, decided that for the first time in 60 years, they would close their legendary Philadelphia plant in the heart of my district, laying off over 300 workers because they’re shipping the jobs to Monterrey, Mexico,” said Boyle.

He went on to say the company is hardly in financial disarray (in fact, it reported revenues of $34 billion in 2014). The plant was profitable, said Boyle, “but not profitable enough.”

He also called out Mondolez CEO Irene Rosenfeld for getting a 50 percent pay increase over the past few months. In fact, the AFL-CIO estimates her 2014 income at $21 million.

“This is greed on steroids,” Boyle said in an interview Thursday night. Mondolez bolting for Mexico is a microcosm of why the middle class is shrinking across the United States, he said.

“These are good, family-sustaining jobs that are up-and-leaving the country for Mexico,” he said. “We’re seeing that repeated on a national level.”

Mondolez did not immediately return a request for comment.

Boyle, along with other legislators like then Gov. Tom Corbett approached Mondolez about keeping the plant open — and even offered to put together a tax incentive plan — but said the company apparently wasn’t interested.

“From the very first meeting, they had no interest in bargaining in good faith. They didn’t come out and say that, but we could just tell that it didn’t make sense on their spreadsheet,” said Boyle.

Although his “Say No to Oreo” campaign is largely symbolic, he says consumers should understand that they can fight back against job-shipping companies by refusing to buy their products. When the market speaks, companies listen.

He even went so far as to start a mini Twitter war with Ritz. After they tweeted their support for the U.S. Women’s World Cup team during last weekend’s championship game, he pointed out the company’s “hypocrisy” of seemingly supporting the country while shipping away jobs.

“They’re so patriotic that they celebrated the Fourth of July by closing its plant and laying off workers” he said. “People wave the flag at sporting events but don’t have same patriotism in their actions.”