- Workers at an Illinois distribution center for candy maker Mars Wrigley have been demanding the company provide hazard pay and improve safety protocols during the COVID-19 pandemic.
- Mars Wrigley produces popular candies like Twix, Skittles, and M&M’s. Ahead of this Halloween, the National Confectioners Association reported a 25% increase in chocolate sales.
- Michael Samuel, a former worker at the Mars warehouse in Illinois, told Business Insider supervisors reprimanded him for taking extra time to wipe down equipment. Samuel helped get 100 signatures in a petition for safer working conditions before being fired on October 1, he said.
- Mars declined to comment on the claims regarding working conditions in its Joliet, Illinois, warehouse because it said the workers are employed by third-party firms XPO Logistics and DHL.
- “They are not employed by Mars Incorporated,” said Caitlin Kemper, external affairs manager at Mars, regarding Samuel and his colleagues.
- DHL refuted “any allegations of unfair labor practices,” but declined to comment further due to an ongoing NLRB complaint regarding the Joliet warehouse. XPO Logistics spokesperson Joe Checkler said the company’s “primary focus is the health and safety of our employees.”
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Michael Samuel said he used to spend 10 hours a day, seven days a week loading trucks with popular Halloween candy like Snickers, M&M’s, and Twix — until October 1, when he was fired from his job at a Mars Wrigley distribution center.
Samuel, 45, said he joined the Mars distribution center near Chicago in 2017 as a forklift operator, having been hired through the logistics firm DHL.
Samuel was part of a group of workers from the warehouse in Joliet, Illinois, organizing to demand hazard pay and better working conditions during the COVID-19 pandemic. Essential employees of many large companies have fought for better benefits since the pandemic broke out earlier this year.
As shoppers are set to spend $8 billion on Halloween this year, including 25% more on candy purchases than in recent years, some workers warn of a nightmare within the Mars distribution center.
Samuel said he had been reprimanded by supervisors for taking bathroom breaks to wash his hands and spending extra time wiping down equipment.
Because logistics companies DHL and XPO Logistics hired all workers in the Illinois warehouse where Samuel worked, Mars declined to comment on the claims detailed in this story. “They are not employed by Mars Incorporated,” said Caitlin Kemper, external affairs manager at Mars. A DHL spokesperson said the firm refutes “any allegations of unfair labor practices,” and XPO Logistics spokesperson Joe Checkler said the company’s “primary focus is the health and safety of our employees.”
But Samuel said after his experience working at the Mars plant, he’ll be buying candy from someplace