This is what solidarity looks like!

BY:Lee Gloster| December 15, 2021
This is what solidarity looks like!


Kellogg’s workers have been walking the picket lines since October 5, when their strike began. The 1,400 strikers are not alone; solidarity efforts are ramping up as organizations form mass pickets and provide mutual aid.

On December 10, St. Joseph Valley Project Jobs with Justice held its annual celebration of Human Rights Day at UAW Local 5. The South Bend area JwJ chapter has celebrated this day for more than 20 years, always focusing on the right to form unions. Union members as well as representatives from the United Religious Community, DSA, the Michiana Peace and Justice Committee, and community organizations joined together, as the program this year emphasized solidarity with the Kellogg’s workers in Battle Creek, Michigan, not far away. Four workers direct from the picket line attended as special guests.

After a warm welcome from Maria Garza, the new president of Local 5, the program featured presentations on labor rights, highlighting the Kellogg’s strike, from academics at local universities’ labor studies programs. A local high school student discussed her research on teen workers. A retired Teamster steward, and former member of the Central Labor Chapter, gave a presentation on the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, beginning by reading President Biden’s statement of support, issued that afternoon. He followed this with a spirited call to mobilization on behalf of the strike in his introduction of the guest speaker, Donivan Williams, a picket captain, and one of the leading strikers.

Williams’s lively speech stressed the responsibilities of the union to its membership. He explained the history leading up to the strike and detailed Kellogg’s inhumane schedule of eight-hour days, seven days a week, plus mandatory eight hours of overtime per week; the hardships the schedule imposes on families, especially on the children; and how it is unfairly targeted at the second-tier workers. The two-tier system, he said, penalizes those workers in terms of pay, holiday pay, and pensions.

The first offer of the company was rejected, the second was so bad the bargaining committee refused to bring it to the workers, and the third was overwhelmingly rejected by a vote on December 5. Williams recounted how the workers have sworn to stay out until the company gets serious, and he, of course, condemned the hiring of replacement workers.

The attendees responded generously to the strikers’ appeals. Passing the hat collected $200 dollars, and St. Joseph Valley Jobs with Justice wrote the local a $1,000 check. The strikers mingled with the attendees afterward as food was served. They expressed their gratitude for the donations, and got on their way back to Battle Creek.

Even the dreary cold rain could not dampen the spirits and enthusiasm of the event goers!

Read about solidarity efforts by Michigan District, CPUSA.


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