The assault on an already declining standard of living in the United States has provoked a small upsurge in strike actions — potential and actual — across the country. Workers in the TV and movie industries, represented by IATSE, are poised to go out soon. And now workers at the Kellogg Company are on strike in several U.S. cities where it has “ready-to-eat cereal” plants.
Just after midnight this morning, when their contract expired, members of several locals of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Milling Workers International Union began walking picket lines in Omaha, Nebraska, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, Memphis, Tennessee, and at the company’s flagship facility in Battle Creek, Michigan. These facilities produce several ubiquitous Kellogg’s brands, including Rice Krispies, Raisin Bran, Froot Loops, Corn Flakes, and Frosted Flakes. How the strike will affect American breakfast tables is not yet known.
The walkout comes after a year of collective bargaining that failed to secure a new contract. At issue are many of what have become standard assaults the capitalist bosses are unleashing against the working class at company after company. Kellogg wants to cut healthcare benefits, holiday pay, and vacation time. The company is also looking to eliminate more jobs.
“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,” said Anthony Shelton, the union’s international president. The union also represents Nabisco workers who went on strike in five states in August to protest a plan to move jobs to Mexico.
The Associated Press reports that the company “is ‘implementing contingency plans’ to limit supply disruption for consumers.” In Battle Creek, the union is gearing up for scabs to be brought into the plant sometime this week.
Daniel Osborn, president of Local 50G in Omaha, told AP that all the striking plants have operated throughout the pandemic, with workers often putting in 12-hour shifts, seven days a week, while others were out sick with the virus. He called that level of work “unsustainable.”
The walkout involves 1,400 workers at the multiple plants. Outside the Omaha facility, where the picket line went up just after midnight, the signs read “on strike against Kellogg company for wages, benefits, and conditions of employment.”
As Osborn told a local Omaha TV station, “This is a simple matter of fact that the rich want to get richer and to do that, take away from the small guys.”
In a word, capitalism.