Gov. Phil Murphy led local lawmakers in blasting the executives who have decided to close down the iconic Nabisco plant in Fair Lawn.
“(I am) not happy about this whatsoever,” said Murphy at a press briefing Feb. 5 when questioned about the decision by Mondelez to shut down production at the Nabisco Oreo factory later this year. “We had a lot of deliberations with these folks. I don’t like the way they’re doing it. ”
Fair Lawn officials were first informed by Mondelez officials in November 2020 the company was considering the plant located on Route 208 would be shut down as the company looked to consolidate operations in North America.
Fair Lawn Mayor Kurt Peluso made the announcement about the closure on Facebook Live Feb. 4, which will result in the estimated job loss of 600 employees—many of them borough residents. The closure on the plant that operated for over six decades is expected to finish in late August or early September.
According to company officials, the decision was driven by geography, infrastructure and manufacturing capabilities with plans for Fair Lawn production to ramp down in a phased approach. The company is closing a production plant in Atlanta as well.
Rep. Josh Gottheimer and union officials had been critical of the move as an attempt to save costs by moving the jobs to Mexico.
“These hardworking men and women literally just put their lives on the line during the pandemic, never missing a day so that Mondelez could meet the skyrocketing demand for their products,” stated Gottheimer. “It’s unfortunate that the company didn’t consider the offer we presented to help them stay and rebuild their iconic facility and remain in the community.”
The 38th Legislative District delegation, where Fair Lawn resides, stated the closing is “outrageous” after Mondelez’s January 2021 revenues beat estimates.
“Those jobs, which have supported families from District 38 and the surrounding area, are being lost due to corporate greed,” said State Senator Joseph Lagana, Assemblywoman Lisa Swain, and Assemblyman Chris Tully in a press statement. “It’s outrageous but sadly not surprising to see them value greater profits over people who have dedicated their lives to the Mondelez/Nabisco brand in Fair Lawn.”
The Trenton lawmakers added that despite their advocacy its now clear to them that “the decision to leave was clearly made well in advance of talks with members of the community under the pretense of an ongoing discussion. Mondelez’s announcement has turned the lives of so many upside down and we share the absolute outrage and disgust in this decision.”
Murphy said in talks with Peluso, other parties have expressed interest in moving into the site.
“The good news is we have a lot of companies kicking the tires on New Jersey right now and specifically I know the Mayor is on that,” said Murphy. “I have already myself reached out to a CEO who I think might be a logical person to go in there.”
The governor’s outrage was driven by how companies who have a large presence in the Garden State have looked to help the economy during the pandemic as compared with Mondelez’s actions.
“We’ve had really great citizenship among our corporate community. I’ll give you an example, I was on with Hans Vestberg, the CEO of Verizon the other day,” said Murphy. “ He’s calling me asking me where we need help. We’ve had overwhelming examples like that of folks doing the right thing.”
Comparatively, Murphy characterized executives at the snack maker as having handled “this really poorly.”
“There’s hundreds of union labor folks who are going to be impacted by this,” said Murphy. “I don’t like the fact it’s happening and I don’t like the way it’s being done, the treatment of these folks who are going to lose their jobs.”