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600 Nabisco Job Cuts Will Hit Chicago's Black Middle Class Hard

By Kate Shepherd in News on Sep 15, 2015 9:10PM

The upcoming elimination of 600 jobs from the Nabisco Bakery at 73rd Street and Kedzie Avenue in Chicago Lawn will likely have a devastating effect on many Chicago families. Workers are waiting to hear which jobs will be eliminated in the latest chapter in an exodus of factory jobs from the South Side, according to a new piece by the Chicago Reporter.

The positions will be lost to Salinas, Mexico where Deerfield-based Mondelez International is spending $130 million to upgrade a facility. Chicago's manufacturing jobs have dropped by half since 2001.

The Chicago Reporter interviewed 57-year-old Sabrina Pope, a processor and baker who has worked at the plant for 35 years and whose family has worked for Nabisco for generations.

"I don't know what's going to happen to me," Pope told the Reporter.

The loss of manufacturing jobs in Chicago has deeply hurt the city's black middle class. It's led to widening income inequality and lower wage jobs for workers without a college degree, the Reporter writes:

Michael Dawson, a leading scholar on politics and race, said, "It's part of a devastating trend that's been happening on the South Side of Chicago and in the black community throughout the United States for decades."

Around the middle of the 20th century, as more and more blacks were allowed to work industrial and public sector jobs, the middle class began to see great progress, said Dawson, a professor at the University of Chicago. But he noted that workers in both sectors have seen their numbers shrink in the decades since.

Working at Nabisco was vital for the Pope family, nearly 20 family members have worked at the plant over the years. Pope wants to keep her job at the plant and help pay for the education of her 17-year-old son, who want wants to be a doctor. Read more at the Chicago Reporter's site.