The Jersey Journal Article from the June 14 Rally

Ex-workers who say Kearny “sweatshop” fired them for trying to unionize call for boycott of all Reynolds products

Published: Friday, June 15, 2012, 3:02 AM


Workers rally in Kearny call for boycott of Pactiv/Reynolds Reena Rose Sibayan/The Jersey Journal Pactiv workers and their families joined by workers from different industries hold a rally at the Kearny factory on Thursday, June 14, 2012, to call for the national boycott of all Reynolds Corporation products until the company complies with their demands. Reena Rose Sibayan/The Jersey Journal Workers rally in Kearny call for boycott of Pactiv/Reynoldsgallery (13 photos)

KEARNY Former workers of Pactiv Corp., a plastic packaging factory on O’Brien Street, protested yesterday what they called “sweatshop” conditions at the factory.

The roughly 20 former employees were joined by about 80 supporters.

They said they were laid off last July after they launched a union organizing campaign among their co-workers in response to conditions that included 12-hour work days, no sick days, and no time to go to the bathroom.

Wan Zhen Huang, 48, of Manhattan, a former packer at the plant and the mother of two young boys, said through a translator that before she was laid off she was working seven days a week, 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., and was told if she couldn’t do it she wouldn’t have a job.

“I didn’t have time to take care of the kids,” she said.

Jenny Reyes, another former worker, said yesterday she wants to return to her job, but under “better working conditions.”

“We want to be treated as human,” Reyes said through a translator. “We want the right to return to work because we were unjustly fired.”

The mostly female workers are part of the “Ain’t I a Woman Campaign!?,” an organizing effort being spearheaded by the National Mobilization Against Sweatshops and the Chinese Staff and Workers Association.

Pactiv Corp., which produces various plastic goods, including cups, cutlery and containers, is a subsidiary of Reynolds Group Holdings, the maker of Reynolds Wrap foil.

Yesterday, the protesters called for a boycott of Reynolds Group products, which they said are produced in 40 factories in North America and Europe.

Officials with the Reynolds Group couldn’t be reached yesterday, but a spokeswoman for Lake Forest, Ill.- based Pactiv Corp. said the company values its employees and obeys all health and safety regulations.

“At Pactiv we have a strong commitment and history of valuing and respecting employees and we operate our facilities in accordance with all applicable laws and regulations,” said Tori Berndt, the spokeswoman. “We strive to maintain a safe and healthful environment for all our employees.”

Berndt declined to respond to claims of the former workers that some 41 of the Kearny factory’s 70 employees were fired last year due to their union organizing activities.

The former workers declined to say how much they were paid and made no allegations of nonpayment for the overtime hours they did work.


One Response to “The Jersey Journal Article from the June 14 Rally”
  1. Ron Button says:

    Wal Mart is Pactiv’s Biggest customer and has strict rules for their Suppliers if we all file a complaint to wal-mart about Pactiv ethics it would Help.
    Reporting Violations
    Violations of Walmart Standards can be reported confidentially in
    a local language. If you have knowledge that any of these
    standards are being violated, you are encouraged to report the
    issue. Contact methods are listed below.
    • Email:
    • World Wide Web:
    • Phone: +1 (800) WM-ETHIC
    (number varies by location)
    6. Freedom of Association and Collective Bargaining
    Suppliers must respect the right of workers to choose
    whether to lawfully and peacefully form or join trade unions
    of their choosing and to bargain collectively.

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