The heads of the Chicago and Michigan Port Councils as well as the MTD Executive Secretary-Treasurer showed solidarity with striking Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) members outside the corporate headquarters for Kellogg’s on October 27.
Robert Howard drove in from Chicago, Jeannette Bradshaw came from Detroit and Daniel Duncan flew in from Washington, DC, to march and demonstrate with nearly 200 other union members and allies who gathered at Festival Market Park in Battle Creek, MI, at a rally organized by the Michigan AFL-CIO.
After presenting an MTD strike support check to Trevor Bidelman, president of BCTGM Local 3-G, Duncan – joined by Howard and Bradshaw – called on Kellogg’s to end its efforts to cut back wages and benefits for the hundreds of men and women whom the company proclaimed as essential workers during the pandemic.
“You don’t have to have Toucan Sam’s nose to know something stinks,” Duncan told those assembled in front of the Kellogg’s complex. “Tony the Tiger doesn’t work here. It’s a different Tony – Tony the Tightwad!”
Among the crowd were members and leaders from the building trades railroad trades and federal, state and local governments. At least nine MTD affiliates participated, including AFT, AFGE, AFSCME, BCTGM, CWA, IBEW, SIU, SMART and UA.
Bidelman thanked the MTD and all the others who have helped the workers, who hit the bricks on October 4. He said the whole community has rallied to their neighbors and friends, which became obvious when numerous speakers were drowned out by passing vehicles blaring their horns in solidarity.
Battle Creek is just one of four locations nationally were nearly 1,400 BCTGM members are striking. On the same day as the Battle Creek rally, U.S. Labor Secretary Marty Walsh (a members of the Laborers International Union) showed up in Lancaster, PA, to meet with workers and march on their picket line. A day later, he flew the Omaha, NE, where he was joined on that picket line by AFL-CIO President Elizabeth Shuler and BCTGM International Secretary-Treasurer (and MTD Executive Board Member) David Woods. (The fourth Kellogg’s site shut down by the strike is Memphis.)
Bidelman said the 300-plus members he represents had worked 12-hour days, seven days a week during the pandemic, losing rest and missing family activities. He called on Kellogg’s to treat its employees with the respect they deserve.
The strike was called when Kellogg proposed reductions in health care, vacation pay, and retirement benefits as well as possibly moving some production jobs to Mexico, initiating a two-tier pay system for new hires and removing the BCTGM label from cereal boxes. As the rallies were taking place, the union announced Kellogg asked that contract talks restart the week of November 1.