Workers, Supporters Protest Del Monte’s Greed

Yesterday, hundreds of ILA members and supporters joined in a Day of Action with rallies and protests in Philadelphia, Galveston, Texas, and at Del Monte’s North American headquarters in Coral Gables, Fla. Carrying signs that proclaimed ” Protect Good-Paying American Jobs”, they protested what they called the company’s corporate greed.

What makes Del Monte’s move so cynical is the way the company left Camden. It gave the workers only four days notice about the move after pushing them to approve $5 million in givebacks. The employees agreed to the givebacks even though they have not had a wage increase in 19 years and had the lowest pension plan in the industry, according to Local 1291.

In an effort to keep the Del Monte jobs and business, the State of New Jersey, which owns the Camden port, responded immediately, making approximately $25 million in infrastructure improvements, offering more acreage at no cost, and decreasing the cap on Del Monte’s electricity bills by nearly half–from $1.3 million down to $700,000. Despite the rapid response by the state and generous concessions by the union, Del Monte still moved its business to a private port.

It’s not like the company needed the money. Monaco-based Del Monte Fresh Produce—which is not affiliated with Del Monte Foods, the maker of packageds food products—had one of its best years in 2009 with more than $3 billion in sales and a net profit of $144 million.

Leonard Riley, a South Carolina longshoreman, who was protesting in Galveston, told the Galveston County Daily News:

We’re not going to let this cancer spread. This isn’t a call to stop work or strike. We’re just talking about awareness. This could be the first in a malicious trend of events. We believe that what happened there isn’t right. We are going to hope that something will happen now, that we force it back to the table and they do what’s right.

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