Leaked management email revealed the existence of a conspiracy between the International Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers Union and Kellogg management to force an end to the strike two and a half months of 1,400 American grain workers. On Thursday, Kellogg’s and the union announced a new tentative agreement that is almost identical to the one workers rejected two weeks ago, and which allows for unlimited expansion of the company’s use of “transitional workers”. Â»Less well paid. An early vote has been requested this Sunday.
The email, first reported by the pseudo-left More Perfect Union, was apparently sent to several members of the factory’s management. He says, âIn short, the overall amount of money (the cost) remains the same. It just moves money from one bucket to another. He adds with malicious satisfaction: “No overall gain for them [Kelloggâs workers] with 3 more weeks on strike and no income. No ratification bonus.
“We are convinced that it will pass,” add the emails because “most of the union’s bargaining committee support it and plan to recommend it. (emphasis added). I know everyone is tired and tense in the factory, please try to focus on what we need to do. Please try to minimize negotiation discussions in the factory around the workers. “
While More Perfect Union reporting ignored key union reference, email exposes BCTGM as an accomplice in management’s attempt to break the strike, and that management is relying on the union to “make” a contract. that workers have already rejected. In addition, instructions to fellow managers to radio silence around contract workers is a clear signal that they are relying primarily on the union to intimidate the opposition on their own behalf.
The workers should react by rejecting the whole fraudulent framework of this so-called “collective bargaining”, which is being exposed as, in reality, a management-union conspiracy to break their courageous struggle. The entire bargaining committee should be kicked out and a new bargaining committee elected made up of the shop’s most trusted grassroots workers.
Last week the World Socialist Website warned that BCTGM’s silence in response to management’s threat to mass fire workers after the latest contract vote amounted to tacit consent, and that the union was working with management to overcome workers’ resistance through a combination threats and intimidation. This has now been proven beyond doubt, first by the “new” tentative agreement itself, and now by the leaked email.
In the days leading up to the elections, the BCTGM was engaged in a massive campaign of censorship. Just hours after the TA announcement, she archived several local Facebook groups with thousands of members to prevent workers from talking to each other and creating opposition to the contract. In this, they take a page from the playbook of the United Auto Workers, who used similar methods this fall to force a new vote on a contract workers also rejected in order to end a month-long strike. at John Deere.
Despite these measures, the workers remain rebellious. âI’m still a NO vote,â said a veteran worker. âKellogg’s is desperate. The bigwigs passed through Battle Creek this morning. I don’t think they liked what they saw. They manipulate stock prices, acting like we have given up. Hope the members are smarter than the leaders on this BS deal.
âThis contract would make me a lot of money,â he added, âand give me the four years I need to retire, but I don’t care right now. to see young people get fucked. It’s still not good for them. I vote NO. If he comes down, [Kelloggâs] will bring another before the release of this quarterly report.
Another striking Kellogg worker said, âThis contract is the same as the previous one, just a few words have changed. If we vote now, this whole strike will be for naught. I hope we will vote NO!
The worker denounced the losing strategy of the BCTGM. âIt’s like the Detroit Lions. How many years have they played âdon’t loseâ and end up losing every time. You can only win if you play to win.
âWe’ve seen this stuff before,â he said. “In the 2015 contract, when they started the lower level of transition, a lot of people were talking about the shady deals BCTGM had made.”
But despite the workers’ determination, the strike is in danger as long as the conduct is left in the hands of the union bureaucracy. Today more than ever, workers must act to take the struggle in hand by forming a grassroots strike committee to oppose union betrayals, call for the broadest possible support and develop a strategy of victory.
Bernie Sanders defends union and promotes ‘America First’ nationalism at Battle Creek rally
Earlier today, Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders traveled to Battle Creek, Mich., In an effort to rally union support and deflect anger from workers. The event, which lasted less than thirty minutes and was largely made up of the same demagogic phrases Sanders used for years, had an unreal character, presenting the BCTGM administration as the vanguard of the struggle. against Kellogg’s even though it is deeply entrenched in a campaign to force through a sold-out contract. The very existence of the tentative agreement is almost entirely glossed over, except for a brief reference to it by local 3G president Trevor Bidelman, who has made some quiet criticism of the agreement. ‘agreement, suggesting that he expects the contract to be rejected.
Sanders attempted to portray the central issue of the strike as an unfair US-based company threatening to ship American jobs to Mexico. At the culmination of his speech, he said, âIf you love America, you love workers. And if you like American workers, you don’t send their jobs to desperate people in Mexico and pay them 90 cents an hour.
This reactionary “America First” nationalism is no different in principle from that of Donald Trump and the far right. In fact, Breitbart, of which former editor Steve Bannon is a key Trump ally, is trying to capitalize on the BCTGM’s own anti-Mexico campaign to bolster the credibility of its own fascist policies.
This anti-Mexican demagoguery only serves to isolate the strike from its most powerful reservoir of support, the international working class. Despite all his demagoguery against the “billionaire class,” Sanders’ presentation of Kellogg’s “disloyal” management leaves open the possibility of “loyal” American exploiters whose interests are united with those of the workers. Indeed, at the end of his speech, Sanders called on the crowd to call on the corporate oligarchy itself to “create an economy that works for all of us, not just a few.” This has particularly dangerous implications as US capitalism prepares for military conflict against nuclear-weaponized Russia and China in a desperate attempt to maintain its global supremacy.
In fact, “America First” nationalism is a central and long-standing feature of Sanders’ politics. In 2015, he denounced the opening of the borders as a proposal of the âKoch Brothersâ which âwould make everyone poorer in Americaâ. When he returned to this theme in 2019, he received praise from neo-Nazi leader Richard Spencer, who organized the fascist riot in Charlottesville, Virginia. Sanders is not a Nazi, but his promotion of anti-Mexican nationalism only serves to disarm the working class and give political legitimacy to the far right.
However it is presented, the promotion of the possibility of the identity of interests between enterprises and workers, within the framework of the national state, can only serve to bind workers hand and foot to their âownâ indigenous exploiters. That is why, in the midst of a demagogic speech attacking Kellogg’s, Sanders also praised the “sacrifice” made by Kellogg workers in working weeks without a single day off as having helped “save America for. the pandemic “. This is a lie that has been promoted by the food production industry itself to justify its brutal overtime imposition and refusal to stop production during the pandemic.
In fact, independent studies have shown that the US food supply has never been threatened, even in the early stages of the pandemic. However, by keeping workers on the job for as long as possible, Kellogg’s and other big food companies have seen their profits skyrocket, even as tens of thousands of food workers have been infected and hundreds have died. .
Unlike Sanders’ economic nationalism, many Kellogg workers view workers in other countries as their natural allies. As one worker noted: âThe support that we have received from all over the country, from all over the world, is really moving. We are followed by a lot of people, and I don’t know what will happen if we win or if we lose, but it is very powerful to see Palestinian workers in Israel waving a banner in support of our strike.
Kellogg workers enjoy tremendous support in the United States and abroad. But to win their fight, they must get it out of the hands of the BCTGM and fight to build independent grassroots committees that can develop a strategy to win the strike. Their strike is part of a growing rebellion by workers around the world against pandemic conditions and decades of capitalist exploitation.
âSomething big has to happen,â the Kellogg employee concluded. âAnd it’s coming: a revolution.
Kellogg workers: contact the WSWS for learn more on forming a grassroots strike committee in your area.