Union protest after shock Cargill layoffs at cocoa facility in Milwaukee

By Anthony Myers

- Last updated on GMT

Cargill Milwaukee Cocoa & Chocolate facility. Pic: Cargill
Cargill Milwaukee Cocoa & Chocolate facility. Pic: Cargill

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Cargill has confirmed it is laying off 38 workers from its Cocoa & Chocolate plant in Milwaukee after deciding to outsource part of its packaging and shipping operation.

A statement sent to ConfectioneryNews by the union Teamsters Local 200 said the company has not fully complied with the union’s information request regarding the announcement, and its members are seeking further information in writing.

Teamsters Local 200 Secretary-Treasurer, Thomas J Bennett, said: "At 8:18 am 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​."

A spokesperson for Cargill’s US operation told ConfectioneryNews: “After a comprehensive evaluation of our production process, the Cargill Milwaukee Cocoa & 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.”

Bargaining agreement

Cargill’s Milwaukee operation has nearly 180 Teamsters at the 12500 West Carmen facility and has been covered under a Teamster collective bargaining agreement for eight decades.

It is beyond egregious for this profitable company to announce they’re going to put workers on the street during a pandemic​,” Bennett said. “We are going to fight for our members – and we call on this company to reverse its dangerous announcement​.”

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