Oct 11, 2021
Starting Tuesday, October 5th, 1400 Kellogg factory workers in 4 states—Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee—went out on strike after contract negotiations that had dragged out over a year broke down. They are members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers’ International union.
They join their comrades of Nabisco, Frito-Lay, and El Milagro Tortilla—some of the other food workers who have recently decided to draw the line on overwork, and the gutting of their wages and benefits and jobs, and stand up and strike. As one Kellogg worker’s strike T-shirt reads: “Will strike if provoked.”
And provoked they were. Kellogg wants to end workers’ cost of living raises that make up for inflation. It wants to expand the two-tier pay and benefits the company was able to shove down workers’ throats in 2015, under the threat of closing plants and sending work to Mexico. It wants to cut health care, holiday and vacation pay; and cut retiree benefits for new hires.
But here is a workforce that has worked all through the pandemic, producing the popular breakfast cereals that can be found in millions of homes in this country, like Corn Flakes and Frosted Flakes, Raisin Bran, and Fruit Loops. Here are workers who have worked 12 to 16-hour days, 7 days a week, often for months at a time, with no time off, because breakfast cereal has been in even more demand, given that many people have worked from home and children were not in school during the pandemic.
Here are essential workers who should be getting more—not less, and who work for a company whose CEO brags to its investors about its far increased sales, profits and cash flow compared to pre-COVID 2019. Paid an $11.6-million-dollar salary, he says how disappointed he is in workers’ decision to strike. Really?
Today, some food industry workers have decided to take a stand. Will these strikes be the beginning of something in the working class? We don’t know. But what is important is that there are workers who have decided to take a stand. As one picket sign reads: “Our Future is Not for Sale.”