For years, Wan Zhen Huang, Lili Cisneros and 70+ other packers, worked at the Kearny, NJ factory, making plastic containers for Pactiv Corporation, a subsidiary of Reynolds Group. The overwhelming majority of them were women. They slaved at the machines in sweltering conditions for twelve hour shifts. The containers were mostly shipped to Walmart and Costco.
Around June 2010, in the middle of summer, all the factory windows were closed with no ventilation nor water for the workers. One woman packer could not bear the over 100 degree temperature and fainted. Then, a group led by Mei E. Liang went to the Manager’s office and demanded something be done about the excessive heat. This was followed by a list of demands for improved working conditions signed by a large number of workers. Their demands were ignored by the Manager so the workers went ahead to organize to join the United Steel Workers Union.
The Pactiv management, instead of addressing the alarming health and safety issues, they sent a squad of union-busting staff to the NJ factory from headquarters to crush the workers’ efforts. They also retaliated by firing 40 women and forcing their work on onto the other workers. Everyone was forced to work overtime, sometimes 8 days in a row, 12 hours a day!
In Response, students and workers in other industries joined the Pactiv workers in calling for a national boycott to raise awareness about Pactiv’s crimes and to demand an end to forced overtime.