Striking Kellogg’s workers get support from Biden and Reddit in fight for fair work
The cereal giant posted permanent job listings to replace the 1,400 workers striking at four plants across the U.S.
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On Friday, Dec. 10, President Joe Biden said he was “deeply troubled” by reports of Kellogg’s plan to permanently replace striking plant workers as the union bargains for a new contract involving 1,400 employees.
Biden’s statement comes after Kellogg’s posted permanent job listings to replace striking workers in its four cereal plants after a union vote rejected a proposed contract, continuing what has already been a two-month strike.
Workers with the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International union have been on strike since Oct. 5 at Kellogg's factories in Battle Creek, Michigan; Omaha, Nebraska; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and Memphis, Tennessee.
This is the single image that has stuck with me from the Kellogg’s strike. What a twisted, backwards system this is where the people who feed us can’t feed their own. pic.twitter.com/8quzltyzog— Read Pedagogy of the Oppressed by Paulo Freire (@JoshuaPotash) December 9, 2021
The company and the union came to a tentative agreement on the contract in a bid to end the strike, but union workers “overwhelmingly” rejected that agreement last week. The rejected offer contained a 3% pay raise and hikes in benefits.
The union argued that the company’s two-tiered system of wages pays newer workers at the plants less and provides them with fewer benefits as well as little opportunity to move up.
Last week, members of the Reddit group r/antiwork aligned with the 1,400 Kellogg’s workers. Threads on r/antiwork compile timelines of the Kellogg’s strike, lists of products to boycott, and links to the jobs that would replace striking workers.
Kellogg's says it will permanently replace most of 1,400 workers who went on strike over a new system that cuts newer workers' pay and benefits.— AJ+ (@ajplus) December 7, 2021
Workers reported 16-hour shifts and 80-hour weeks during the pandemic, and rejected a proposal giving only veteran workers a 3% raise. pic.twitter.com/Wuxz6ptgHy
The main thread encouraged members to flood the system with fake applications and amassed more than 62,000 upvotes and thousands of comments. In another thread, members shared tips on how to use features like autofill to submit applications faster.
The efforts to stall the company have also spread to Twitter and TikTok. According to Insider, a TikTok user posted a code that is meant to mass spam Kellogg’s with fake job applications.
TikTokers fighting scabs digitally!— Bolshetrick (@Bolshetrick) December 10, 2021
Sean Black, the TikTok activist, explained in a video how he sent out the spam applications, demonstrating the coding he used to quickly autofill details and a dummy resume.
“It’s very easy to empathize with the Kellogg’s workers,” Kevin McKenzie, a moderator of r/antiwork, told The Verge.
“Hearing Kellogg’s workers talk about being overworked, being paid low wages, and having a poor work-life balance resonates with others. It lights a fire in the community, and you get ideas like this that spring up and get supported,” McKenzie said.
Corrina Christensen, director of communications for the union, told The Verge that the striking workers know of the Redditors’ efforts, which she called “phenomenal.”
“Permanently replacing striking workers is an existential attack on the union and its members’ jobs and livelihoods. And such action undermines the critical role collective bargaining plays in providing workers a voice and the opportunity to improve their lives while contributing fully to their employer’s success,” Biden said in a statement.