Striking Ingredion bakery workers fight boss threats

By Edwin Fruit
October 24, 2022

CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — Twenty-five people, members of Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Local 100G, and strike supporters, walked the picket line in front of the Ingredion plant here Oct. 6.

The local’s 200 members have been on strike since Aug. 1 after unanimously rejecting company demands to cut pay, decrease the number of vacation days, increase health care costs and outsource lab work. Workers are fighting to get rid of a divisive two-tier pay system.

Ray Taber, vice president of the local, reported to pickets that he and about 20 other strikers had just returned from Westchester, Illinois, where Ingredion’s corporate headquarters is located.

“We had a spirited picket line there, which included unionists from the Chicago Federation of Labor,” he said. Taber reported that there had been negotiations earlier in the week, where the company came in with a new proposal to eliminate the entire union maintenance department and contract out the work. “I thought negotiating was a give-and-take situation but this company only wants to take-and-take,” he said.

The week before, strikers marched from the Ingredion plant to the Jean Oxley Linn County Public Service Center, asking officials to look into dangers with untrained replacement workers handling toxic chemicals in the plant.

“The five people who are qualified to unload those chemicals are standing out here in the street,” Mike Moore, president of BCTGM Local 100G, told the press.

When union negotiators went to attend negotiations Sept. 20, company officials came in with half a dozen armed guards, said Moore. “We’re here to negotiate in good faith and the company’s bringing armed guards! It’s intimidation and a lack of respect.”

Iowa Federation of Labor President Charlie Wishman said in a recent email: “The intent was clear in the actions of the company. They were trying to terrorize or possibly even send a message they intend to harm people who are looking to discuss issues in their workplace and end a labor stoppage.”

These workers deserve solidarity and financial support! Help get the word out about the strike. You can join the picket line, or drop off food and supplies at 1001 1st Street, SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404. Send a support letter to Donate at Strike Fund/GoFundMe page.