Battle Creek Kellogg workers picketing against contract givebacks are part of ‘Striketober’

click to enlarge More than 1,400 Kellogg's workers are on strike. - BAKERY, CONFECTIONERY, TOBACCO WORKERS AND GRAIN MILLERS INTERNATIONAL UNION
Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union
More than 1,400 Kellogg's workers are on strike.

Almost 1,400 union workers at four Kellogg plants, including Battle Creek, have been on strike since last week — and they’re part of a growing national movement that supporters like U.S. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) have dubbed “Striketober.”

“After years of being underserved and taken for granted – & doubly so during the pandemic – workers are starting to authorize strikes across the country,” Ocasio-Cortez wrote on Twitter on Thursday.

She noted the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) workers striking at Kellogg in protest of job cuts and the two-tier wage system, as well as more than 10,000 UAW workers striking at John Deere and the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees (IATSE) who are planning to strike.

There have been at least 175 strikes this year.

So what’s behind Striketober? Reporter Ahiza García-Hodges sums it up for NBC News: “After 19 months of balancing their health and safety working the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic, many low-wage workers have had enough. They’re demanding increased wages, meal and rest breaks, better benefits and shorter shifts. From health care to Hollywood, nearly 100,000 U.S. workers are either striking or preparing to strike to improve working conditions.”

The BCTGM union representing workers at Kellogg plants in Battle Creek, Memphis, Omaha and Lancaster, Pa. says that after employees pulled long hours through the pandemic, the company is now demanding workers “give up quality health care, retirement benefits, and holiday and vacation pay. The company continues to threaten to send additional jobs to Mexico if workers do not accept outrageous proposals that take away protections that workers have had for decades.”

In September, Kellogg announced it planned to cut 212 jobs at the Battle Creek plant over the next two years.

“While this is the right thing to do for the business, any decision that impacts people is incredibly difficult,” Kellogg spokesperson Kris Bahner said in a written statement. “We are committed to helping our talented and dedicated employees, and we are devoted to working with them and their union to ensure they have outplacement assistance, resources and support through this transition.”

U.S. Rep. Andy Levin (D-Bloomfield Twp.) is among those who have expressed solidarity with striking workers across the country.

“Former union organizer here,” he tweeted on Thursday. “Safe to say I’m heartened to see the strike wave around the country. There’s nothing more beautiful than workers utilizing the power of solidarity to stand together and demand higher wages, better benefits and safer working conditions.”

Originally published October 15, 2021 on Michigan Advance. It is shared here with permission.

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