The decision by Nabisco's parent company, Mondelez International, to move Oreo production from Chicago to Salinas, Mexico, has drawn sharp criticism from presidential hopefuls Bernie Sanders, Hillary Clinton, and especially Donald Trump, a former pitchman for Oreos. The company cites the $46 million it will save each year for the move to Salinas and the dismissal of 600 workers in Chicago, but Mondelez spokeswoman Laurie Guzzinati says at least half those workers would still have lost their jobs if Nabisco built its new cookie and cracker factory in the U.S.
"Even if the investment would have been made in Chicago, there would have been an impact to positions at that bakery," she told USA Today, explaining that the new factory lines and machines are more efficient than the ones Nabisco operates in Chicago.
Nate Zeff, a member of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers (BCTGM) International Union, isn't sympathetic, especially since Mondelez CEO Irene Rosenfeld earned $21 million last year. "We're talking about 600 jobs," he said, and "600 families who are going to be deeply affected. That's millions of dollars that's going to be stripped away from the economy here." The Chicago plant will still have 600 workers, and while it won't be making Oreos, Nabisco's Oreo plants in Oregon, Virginia, and New Jersey will still make the cookies, along with bakeries in 16 other countries. Oreos earned Mondelez $2.5 billion in revenue in 2014.