Boycott ReynoldsPosted: June 7, 2016
By Mary Lister
On Friday, April 22nd at 12:30pm, Students Organizing Against Reynolds met with representatives from Pactiv to insist that the company meet the demands of the Pactiv workers. Undergraduate students, graduate students, and members of the wider Binghamton community joined with SOAR both inside the meeting and out to show that our community will NOT stand for sweatshop conditions, neither for the Pactiv workers nor for ourselves. For years, Asian and Latino women packers worked at a Kearny, NJ factory, making plastic containers for Pactiv Corporation. They slaved at the machines in sweatshop conditions. To improve the working conditions, workers organized, seeking to join the United Steelworkers Union. Instead of addressing the alarming health and safety issues, Pactiv management sent a group of union-busting officials to crush the workers’ efforts. They sped up the machines to such a breakneck pace that workers could not even go to the bathroom. Pactiv then fired forty workers who were standing up for their rights and forced the remaining workers to do mandatory overtime. In fact, packing workers went from operating one machine to five, with 12-hour shifts for up to 8 consecutive days. Many of the women workers developed chronic physical injuries due to long working hours and machine speed-ups. Reynolds and Pactiv products- such as disposable plastic forks, spoons, knives and different forms of take-out containers, as well as tinfoil- are widely used. They line the shopping aisles of every retailer from Walmart to Costco, they fill the dining halls of Binghamton University and other institutions, and are used even in Mom and Pop stores across the country. Overwork and chronic unemployment are problems that confront all of us- whether we are immigrants, students, low-wage workers, or salaried workers. Join SOAR and the Pactiv workers to fight mandatory overtime and put an end to the sweatshop economy. We boycott all Pactiv/Reynolds’ products on campus until the workers’ demands are met!
- The right to take bathroom breaks.
- The right to sick days and parental leave.
- The right to speak out and organize without retaliation.
- Reinstatement with back pay for those laid-off or fired.
- The right to a 40-hour work week and no mandatory overtime.
Pactiv slip-ups in the meeting: At one point, Pactiv lawyer Steve says that he not only wants workers to stand up for themselves, but that he wants an “activist” workforce. Later in the meeting he admitted that the company actively tries to dissuade the workers from joining unions. He also said that unhappy workers would simply “vote with their feet.” Because as we all know, working class, immigrant women such as the ones at the plant can simply pick a new job when the going gets tough… Pactiv also admitted: That the factory was old and likely very hot in the summer That many of the supervisors had to be replaced That “mistakes” may have happened. When pushed on what “mistakes” meant, Pactiv lawyer Steve gave several alarming examples, including one of sexual assault.
Remember the workers when making your purchases!