President Biden Tells Kellogg's It's Not G-R-R-REAT To Replace Striking Workers With Scabs
We've had some pretty good labor news this week, what with the first US Starbucks unionizing and all — but we've also had some real crap labor news. Namely that Kellogg's, where workers have been on strike since October, plans to fire 1,400 of those workers and permanently replace them with scabs after their most recent contract proposal fell through.
The job description listed on the company's website does not even try to hide the fact that they are looking for scabs, so there's definitely no excuse for anyone applying for the positions.
Kellogg is Now Accepting Applications for Regular Full-Time Employees
Our ready-to-eat (RTEC) cereal production facilities in Battle Creek, MI, Lancaster, PA, Memphis, TN and Omaha, NE are accepting applications for a range of Hourly Production positions.
The Unions representing Kellogg employees in these plants are on strike, and we are looking for employees to permanently replace them, joining hundreds of Kellogg salaried employees, hourly employees, and contractors to keep the lines running.
Notably, the job description does not say that it is a union job.
As Vice reported this week, users of the r/antiwork subreddit (which, by the way, is great) responded to this new development flooded the company with fake applications, making it next-to-impossible for the company to discern the real applications from the fake. They ended up crashing the entire site, which is pretty delightful.
Kelloggs is trying to replace 1400 striking workers. Millennials & Gen Z flooded the jobs postings with fake applications and crashed the system. This is what solidary looks like. #StrikeMas #1upic.twitter.com/OOMh3CFOX5— Liz Shuler (@Liz Shuler) 1639102984
While it's technically "legal" to fire workers who are striking for economic reasons (as opposed to "unfair labor practices" reasons), it really was not an acceptable thing to do until Ronald Reagan came along, fired all of the striking Air Traffic Controllers and then had the Federal Labor Relations Authority to decertify the Professional Air-Traffic Controllers Association, the union representing them. This was, in many ways, the beginning of the end when it came to unions having any real power in the United States. At least until recently.
That is why it is incredibly important and significant that President Biden sent a letter to Kellogg's on Friday encouraging them to not replace striking workers with scabs, but to instead negotiate with them in good faith.
The official White House statement:
Collective bargaining is an essential tool to protect the rights of workers that should be free from threats and intimidation from employers.
That’s why I am deeply troubled by reports of Kellogg’s plans to permanently replace striking workers from the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International during their ongoing collective bargaining negotiations.
Permanently replacing striking workers is an existential attack on the union and its members’ jobs and livelihoods. I have long opposed permanent striker replacements and I strongly support legislation that would ban that practice.
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.
Unions built the middle class of this country. My unyielding support for unions includes support for collective bargaining, and I will aggressively defend both.
I urge employers and unions to commit fully to the challenging task of working out their differences at the bargaining table in a manner that fairly advances both parties’ interests.
It is really, sincerely, truly nice to see a President standing up for workers like this.
This is not a good move for Kellogg's. They ought to look around and notice that it's not the '80s or '90s or even the 2000s anymore. There just isn't an endless supply of scabs willing to work countless hours for basically nothing because asking for anything more than that is for soft spoiled children who hate America and want to be showered in endless participation trophies. While not everyone has gotten wise to that scam, it's going to be pretty difficult for Kellogg's to find 1,400 workers who haven't — that's why we so many companies are struggling to fill positions right now. And sure, they could move their operations to another country, but that's not going to be a great PR move for them either. Their best bet right now is to, as President Biden said, sit down with the union and come up with a plan that works for both of them.
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Robyn Pennacchia is a brilliant, fabulously talented and visually stunning angel of a human being, who shrugged off what she is pretty sure would have been a Tony Award-winning career in musical theater in order to write about stuff on the internet. Follow her on Twitter at @RobynElyse