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Striking workers rally at Kellogg’s headquarters in Michigan

By Tom Burke

Striking Kellogg workers at company headquarters in downtown Battle Creek, MI.

Battle Creek, MI – Over 200 striking workers and supporters rallied outside the Kellogg’s headquarters in downtown Battle Creek on October 27. As Kellogg’s corporate bosses looked down from their offices, striking workers and their families listened to energetic speeches.

“This worker exploitation by big corporations must stop now!” shouted Trevor Bidelman, the president and business agent for the union waging the strike, the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco workers, and Grain Millers Union (BCTGM) Local 3-G.

Bidelman called for solidarity between the 20 or more unions gathered, as the strike heads towards its fourth week, “My fight must become your fight, and your fight must become my fight. This time the bully on the playground is getting surrounded by his classmates. Everyone together is what it takes to fight a bully. When we, as organized labor, stand up and fight together, there is nothing we cannot achieve!”

Donnie Millbrooks, a mechanic at the Kellogg’s Memphis plant, and a veteran member of BCTGM Local 252G, drove up to Michigan with a crew of strikers from Tennessee. In an interview, Millbrooks gave his assessment, “I see the strike going good. It is time, and everyone needs the support. It is big. It is more than just us.”

Millbrooks explained about the strike, “We are hoping to get a contract, but one that is good for everyone. The main issue is the two-tier wage system. The bottom tier, a person comes in doing the same job and he is making $17 an hour and I am making $35. I don’t pay for my insurance, and he does pay for insurance. If his child has to go to the doctor, he has to pay 80/20 and mine is only going to be $5. It is not fair. He should have the same benefits.”

During the 2019 United Auto Workers strike that lasted 40 days, the main victory was for so-called temporary workers, with between three and eight years on the job. Similarly, this strike is set to help “transitional workers” on the lower tier, not the “legacy workers” like Millbrook. The union veterans are striking to leave a legacy of fairness and respect that the big bosses do not want.

Asked about the upcoming union negotiation with Kellogg’s management, Millbrook doubled down, “Hopefully it will not last past the next week, but if it lasts longer, we are here to stay.”

Continuing the rally, Roger Miller, a BCTGM vice president, announced to loud cheers that U.S. Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh was joining the union picket line in Lancaster County, Pennsylvania and pledging that the Biden administration hears the union workers and stands with them.

After the rally, strikers rushed to form a huge picket line, crossing the street to Kellogg’s headquarters. The police were quickly called out to push the picket back across the street. Strikers moved back into the street where they stood their ground, taunting and waving their signs. Negotiations resume November 2.

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