PORTLAND, Ore. — Things got heated Tuesday at the ongoing strike at a Nabisco plant in Northeast Portland.
Picketers and security guards clashed in the morning. There was yelling and even some shoving, as the strike, which has gone on for more than a month, showed no sign of ending.
The fight is over wages, pension and overtime pay. Many of the picketers have worked at the plant for decades and said things have degraded for them over the last five years.
The employees said they are fighting for a fair contract after they said they have lost many of their benefits.
“I’m upset because I’m near retirement and they are taking everything away,” said Judy Schultz, who has worked at the factory on Northeast Columbia Boulevard for 37 years. “I work hard for this company. I’ve given up so much for this company. All we are asking is for our original contract. That’s it.”
The strike has garnered a lot of attention and support from local leaders, and on Tuesday even the Portland Thorns joined the line.
There were moments of tension. Picketers blocked semi-trucks and cars, keeping them from entering the factory.
Shaila Tatiana took a strong stance by standing in front of a car, blocking its entrance.
“I was just thinking I have the support of all these people, so if something happens, they would be there to take care of me,” she said. “There is more of us than there are of them, so I thought, worst-case scenario, if I get hurt, they are all here to take care of me.”
Tatiana doesn’t work for Nabisco but is part of another local union. She said she's here to stand in solidarity.
“They are just fighting for what everyone deserves -- to live, have a living wage, to eat, to have a home -- it’s really unfortunate we have to do this. Everyone deserves that,” she said.
Nabisco said it is negotiating in good faith and that it is offering a 401(k) match program as well as higher wages. But when asked about health benefits and overtime, the company did not respond.