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Strikers at Battle Creek Kellogg’s stand strong, Bernie Sanders to join Friday rally

By Sam Tunningley

Kellogg strikers on the picket line.

Battle Creek, MI – Kellogg’s workers are continuing the fight after a rejection of a proposed contract last week. At the Battle Creek headquarters, there is determination to hold the line despite the company’s plan to permanently replace 1400 workers.

Jason Rose, a mechanic who has worked at Kellogg’s for 15 years, said the company is going to have a difficult time filling all the positions. In Battle Creek, the plant’s downward trend in working conditions is well known. “They had a hard enough time hiring people in the first place,” said Rose.

The strikers are asking to abolish the two-tier system of hiring, in which the company brings in “transitional” workers with no benefits and a low wage while offering false promises of advancing to a higher position. The company has not been fulfilling a “one-for-one” policy of moving workers with the most seniority up after someone retires.

The veteran workers want equal rights for all, including the 30% who are employed at the whim of the company.

Recent moves by Kellogg’s have increased public support for the strike, including boycotts and a campaign to overwhelm the company with fake applications. Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders is expected to visit December 17 for a rally, and the workers said any promotion of their cause is welcome.

Byron Rettinger, one of the men on strike, said he is excited for the former presidential candidate’s visit and hopes the event will receive national coverage. He said the renewed focus on labor issues is promising. “I would love to see a strong labor movement in the U.S.,” he said.

One positive aspect of the strike, said Rettinger, is the ability for the workers to spend time with their families – something not afforded to them by the company. Kellogg’s worked its employees seven days a week, with little room for days off, and often gave just two-minutes notice before clocking out they would be working another shift.

Rettinger was able to spend an anniversary with his wife for the first time in years.

Mike Rolfe, another employee, said he is not surprised by the recent moves but remains optimistic. “We are in for a fight and knew we were going to be,” said Rolfe.

The Bernie Sanders rally will take place Friday, December 17, at 3 p.m. at Festival Market Square in downtown Battle Creek.

#BattleCreekMI #PeoplesStruggles #Strikes #Kelloggs