CEDAR RAPIDS, Iowa — “This is our 151st day on strike and we’re still holding the line,” Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Local 100G President Mike Moore told this fellow union member and Militant worker-correspondent on the picket line at Ingredion here Dec. 29.
The strike began Aug. 1, after the union’s 122 members voted 100% against the bosses’ takeaway contract proposal, which included higher health premiums, eliminating union jobs, imposing a schedule of 14 straight days on 12-hour shifts and ending overtime pay after eight hours.
Ingredion is a food-products conglomerate with 12,000 workers in 26 countries. It reported net sales of $7 billion in 2021. Ingredion makes sweeteners, starches, nutrition ingredients and biomaterials used in products from foods and beverages to paper and pharmaceuticals.
“The outstanding issues are amnesty for five union members who the company wants to discipline, maintenance schedules which contract out maintenance work on the second and third shifts, and vacation pay,” Moore said. “We are willing to negotiate anytime.
“We appreciate the support for our strike from all over the country, not just from BCTGM locals,” he added. “It is overwhelming.”
Veronica Hopkins, BCTGM Local 1 business agent in Chicago, visited the picket line with me. She is part of the negotiating team for Local 100G. We gave Moore a check for $1,521 from a recent collection organized by BCTGM Local 1 shop stewards and others at Mondelez International (Nabisco) where I work. “You never know the support that’s out there until you get into a fight like this one,” she said.
In September, workers from two Alpha Bakeries in Chicago, also members of BCTGM Local 1, delivered contributions they raised totaling $916 to the strikers.
“Originally over 20 strikers got a letter in the mail indicating they were subject to discipline. Now it’s four or five they want to fire,” striker Kasey Klein said. “We went out together and we will return together.”
‘Not one member has crossed line’
“They’re trying to get production from scabs they’ve hired and by bringing in salaried people from other Ingredion plants,” striker Jim Kersten said. “Bosses from other Ingredion plants are watching what happens here with the strike. Not one union member has crossed the line.”
Ray Taber, vice president of Local 100G, told us, “Many of our members have gotten other jobs but do picket duty before or after work or on weekends. The company tried unsuccessfully to get a judge to limit picketing. We need work schedules that allow for family life, not working 14 days in a row.”
Their long strike has gotten broad support, and needs more. They ask unionists to join the picket line or drop off food/drinks/supplies; send a solidarity letter; donate to the strike fund; help spread the word.
Send contributions to BCTGM Local 100G, 500 J St. SW, Cedar Rapids, IA 52404. Donate at: https://www.gofundme.com/f/bctgm-100g-strike-assistance/donate. Messages can be sent to: firstname.lastname@example.org.