FAIR LAWN, NJ — Oh, say it's not so, OREO! The manufacturer of the cookie, and other snacks has announced it's likely to close its doors at the Fair Lawn bakery manufacturing plant in the Route 208 industrial park.
"This took us off guard," Mayor Kurt Peluso said.
According to Mondelez's website, the company has done well during COVID-19 due to demand. "Strong performance with broad-based revenue growth, despite COVID-headwinds."
Years ago, Mondelez invested into staying in Fair Lawn after closing its Philadelphia location, Peluso said.
"We have a very good relationship with them," he said. "Prior administrations have had a good relationship with them, too. As of right now, we're focusing on trying to keep them here."
Peluso said it's more about location for Mondelez than anything else.
Mondelez, an American multinational food and beverage company with an annual revenue of more than $25 billion, has been in Fair Lawn for more than 60 years and is one of the largest producers of Oreo cookies in the world.
"When you smell those cookies, you can equate that to jobs," Peluso said, which adds up to about 600 for area workers.
"The plant’s employees have worked multiple shifts, risking their own health, during the pandemic to meet skyrocketing demand," according to a press release from Congressman Josh Gottheimer (NJ-5).
Gottheimer has spoken with Mondelez senior leadership, national and local Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers union leadership, local officials, and Gov. Phil Murphy. Gottheimer has also formally sent letters to Mondelez International CEO Dirk van de Put and President, North America Glen Walter, and Gottheimer is staying in close touch with Fair Lawn borough officials.
“The closing of this facility would have a devastating impact on 600 hardworking men and women and their families right here in North Jersey — workers who may no longer be able to put food on their tables in the midst of a global pandemic,” Gottheimer said. “They have been loyal to the company for more than six decades, and worked multiple shifts during the height of the crisis, putting their own health on the line. I’m strongly urging Mondelez’s leadership to reconsider, to keep these jobs here in North Jersey, and to help make sure these workers can continue providing for their families. I've requested an emergency meeting with Mondelez for a detailed briefing on all the factors in their decision. Demand for Oreos has skyrocketed during the pandemic, raising questions about the plant closure. We all fear that these jobs will move to Mexico, which is clearly unacceptable.”
This announcement from Mondelez comes during the ongoing COVID-19 public health and economic crisis. Since the start of the pandemic in mid-March, a total of 1.78 million New Jersey residents have applied for unemployment, according to Gottheimer's press release.
"If they leave, it's really unfortunate," Peluso said. "It wasn't taxes, we've had a zero increase three years in a row. We worked with them on whatever they needed. They are very good neighbors. We're going to fight like hell to keep them here."
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