On June 14 of 2012, the Ain’t I a Woman?! Campaign launched a national boycott of Reynolds Group, the parent company of Pactiv. Over 150 working people, their friends, family, and members of the community gathered in front of the Pactiv Corporation plastics factory in Kearny, NJ, to denounce the company’s sweatshop practices, and to announce a national boycott against Reynolds. There to support the launch were many organizations from New Jersey and New York, including American Friends Service Workers Committee, Students Organizing Against Reynolds, United Steel Workers District 4, United Labor Agency of Bergen County AFL-CIO, Central Labor Council of Hudson County AFL-CIO, International Association of Machinists and Aerospace Workers AFL-CIO, as well as many more in spirit. Together, we denounced Pactiv for retaliating against women workers standing up for their rights.
The company had forced over a hundred workers, mostly Latina and Chinese women, to work long hours in sweltering conditions, with no time to even go to the bathroom. When the women began to speak out and organize for better conditions, Pactiv retaliated. Pactiv instituted speed ups at the factory, imposed new rules meant to weed out leaders and sympathizers, and eventually fired 40 of the most outspoken workers in the most active department. With the number of workers in their department cut by 60%, Pactiv forced the remaining workers to work brutally long hours to pick up the slack.
Pactiv and parent company Reynolds Group have been promoting such practices and spreading sweatshops throughout the country. They operate over 40 plants in North America alone! In Illinois, they boasted of crushing another unionized group of workers who tried to improve conditions. What was once considered a good job, at over $17 per hour, increasingly became a sweatshop job at the hands of Pactiv. Finally, the company shut down that factory and bought other factories elsewhere to continue exploiting more workers!
“We need to take this boycott nationwide,” said Ain’t I a Woman!? Campaign Representative Jennifer Wager, ”because mandatory overtime is affecting all of us. Many of my friends, my coworkers,and I are working longer and longer hours. We are doing the work of two or three people while so many people are unemployed. This is ridiculous!”
A student representative spoke for the new national network, Students Organizing Against Reynolds: “We are now facing worse and worse conditions – unpaid internships with longer and longer hours, unemployment, rising tuition, insurmountable debt. We need to boycott Reynolds because they are promoting this kind of sweatshop in America. We are joining working people from all over the country to say No to Sweatshops!”
The crowd of demonstrators cheered each speaker on, while chanting “Boycott Reynolds!”At the end of the program the workers who were unjustly laid off signed their names onto the list of demands on the petition below.
Representatives of the student network, the Pactiv workers, the Ain’t I a Woman Campaign, and the labor unions delivered the demands to the Pactiv office.
Have you signed on to the Boycott yet?
Want to make a pledge of support? Visit www.boycottreynolds.org to sign on electronically, download a petition, and learn more about the boycott!