Pactiv Corporation is an international company, which produces plastic products sold to many wholesalers and retailer across country. Pactiv operates approximately 40 factories in North America and Europe.
- About 100 workers, mostly Latina and Chinese women, molded and packed boxes of plastic containers in their Kearny, New Jersey factory. These conditions were so bad that the workers decided to take their future in their own hands.
- First they elected 10 representatives; then, around the end of June 2010, they signed a petition to demand changes from Pactiv. Among these: Reduce workloads, and Packers should not have to lift heavy loads.
- Upon receiving the petition, Pactiv sent a seasoned manager, Joaquin Zuniga, who had overseen 3 other factories, to address the problem. He provided water and fans to the workers.
- By August 2010, workers tried to organize into the United Steel Workers Union. Around 70% of the workers signed the card.
- When Pactiv found out that the workers were organizing, they sent in more than 10 company officials to crush the union effort. Pactiv lied to the workers and promised to improve conditions within the year. Many workers were duped, and the Union lost the September 2010 election.
- In February 2011, the company started to speed up the production. The workers felt cheated and started to organize together and complained about their working conditions.
- After workers’ complaints in March and April 2011, the conditions worsened. The company instituted more speed-ups, and created a lot of new rules and warnings, which targeted those most vocal against the speed up and for the union. The extent of speed up was unbearable; workers were given warnings if they came back from the bathroom late. Furthermore, if they took time off due to injury or sickness, they would be warned.
- Beginning in May 2011, Pactiv told the workers about the new team leader positions. This would require them to speak English, help to supervise the other workers and handle 5 machines. Most of the workers did not fill out the application, because it was too much to handle even 3 or 4 machines. Meanwhile, the company secretly told those who were more obedient not to worry about the extra work, and even helped them to fill out the form.
- In July 2011, a few days before the workers could re-file the petition to join a union, the Company laid off those who did not fill out the application or missed the application deadline. The company also laid off those who filled out the application on time but were very outspoken, by claiming that their evaluation scores were too low. In total, Pactiv laid off nearly 60 % of the packing department workers.
- In August 2011, Pactiv offered 8 to 10 weeks’ wages to the workers laid off, only if they were willing to give up their legal rights to challenge the layoffs.
- Also in August 2011, the company forced the remaining packers to work overtime in order to catch up with production. Remaining workers are now required to work 60-70 hours a week and handle extra workload — a 60% increase.
- In October 2011, a group of workers filed the charges at NLRB challenging Pactiv’s retaliation, and demanded reinstatement and back pay.
- In November 2011, despite company claims that the layoffs were for lack of work, Pactiv began hiring temp workers from local agencies to do the work usually done by packers, instead of reinstating the laid off workers.