1,400 Kellogg’s Workers Reject Tentative Agreement – IATSE Strikes Spread in GA & OK – Richmond Teachers Win First-Ever Collective Bargaining Rights

Union members walk the picket line outside of Kelogg in Lancaster (Ty Lohr/ Lancaster Online)

Folks, 

Greetings from Erie, where it’s 5° below freezing and snowing, but striking ironworkers at Strayer are braving the cold as their strike enters its 8th week. 

We will have a longer story out in the next day or two, but check out a video of ironworkers picketing in the snow outside the plant at owner Kyle Strayer’s house here. 

Thanks to all who donated to our gas fund to get up here to cover it. 


Kellogg’s Workers Vote Down Tentative Agreement 

Yesterday, BCTGM announced that 1,400 Kelloog workers had voted down the recent tentative agreement. The union did not release the vote total but said that its memberships had “overwhelmingly” voted down the contract in a press release. 

The union has been on strike for nearly two months now and workers said they are prepared to stay out longer in order to get a better contract. 

Trevor Bidelman, president of the union’s local in Battle Creek, Michigan, said that based on his conversations with members, he felt the contract was voted down because it lacked provisions to protect jobs from being sent to non-union plants in the South. 

Bidelman said that union members were also upset about a two-tier wage system that kept some younger workers’ wages on a wage and advancement system that puts them into a seperate tier of the union contract with standards below those of veteran workers. 

“Yes, it’s a two tier system,” Bidelman told WWMT. “That’s kind of what the problem is. We don’t like to see a two tier system, we want to see a progressive system.” 

Voting down the proposed contract by BCTGM’s membership marks the second time in the last two months where union members have voted down contracts proposed by their leadership in high-profile union fights. 

Last month, John Deere workers voted down a contract proposed by their union, the UAW’s leadership. In the final tentative agreement, they were able to win improvements that the union’s leadership  proposed to their membership. 

“Anecdotally it seems like rank-and-file bargaining unit employees are less willing to blindly sign on to agreements negotiated by bargaining committees,” University of St. Louis labor law professor Mike Duff told Payday Report. “The voting down the contract development seems consistent with the emerging theory that employees are in a different ‘mood’ than they were pre-pandemic.”

IATSE Strikes in Georgia & Oklahoma City for Union Recognition

In October, 98% of IATSE members voted to strike against the major Hollywood studios. However, many were disappointed when the union cut a tentative agreement and the strike did not occur. 

The tentative agreement barely passed with a majority of members voting against the “basic agreement,” which covers film production done in Hollywood voting against the deal

However, under the union’s delegate system, the contract passed despite a majority of members voting against it. 

However, some small groups of film production workers in both Oklahoma and Georgia have chosen to strike in hopes of improving conditions on film sets. 

On Monday, non-union film production workers in Georgia working on “The Spirit of Halloween” went on strike. 

“We are prepared and willing to negotiate with the production on a fair agreement for a project of this size and scope,” wrote IATSE on their Twitter page. “But as it stands now, Scary Fun LLC pays less than area standard wages and does not provide employee health insurance… during a pandemic.”

Today in Oklahoma City, 40 non-union film production workers employed by Nefarious Film Inc. are on strike demanding that the film production company recognize its union. 

“We are super invested in making this movie. A lot of these people are super invested in making this movie but there’s been … we have no progress,” IATSE Central Business Winona Wacker told KWTV.  “It’s a big enough production, yes, that it should be covered.”

For more, check out KWTV. 


Richmond Teachers Win Collective Collective Bargaining Rights

Yesterday, teachers in Richmond became the first teachers in Virginia to be granted collective bargaining rights. 

The move comes after a law took effect this spring granting municipalities in Virginia the ability to enter collective bargaining agreements. 

The Virginia Education Association says that many other school districts are likely to follow the example of Richmond in granting collective bargaining rights to teachers.

“It has taken more than a year of patient, grassroots organizing for educators to convince the school board to pass the resolution,” said Dr. James J. Fedderman, president of the Virginia Education Association, in a statement. “After holding rallies and trainings and collecting authorization cards and petition signatures, the REA successfully persuaded the school board to pass the resolution. We expect to see many other school divisions doing the same next year.”

For more on this historic victory for teachers, check out the Richmond Times-Dispatch. 


75 Lehigh Valley Coca-Cola Workers Strike 

In Bethlehem, PA, 75 Coca-Cola delivery drivers are spending their days leading up to the holidays out on the picket line. 

On Monday, delivery drivers, members of Teamsters Local 733, went on strike.

Workers are protesting the decision of the company to try and eliminate defined pension plans and switch to 401K plans. The union is also upset the company is demanding workers, who were essential employees throughout the pandemic, pay more for their healthcare.

“They’ve been working here for decades, and they want to take their pension away from them. It’s not fair to these workers,” Teamsters Local 733 President Dennis Hower told WFMZ. “…They like to say they are a family company. I don’t think taking away health care and giving away retirement security is how to treat family.”

For more, check out WFMZ.


Strikes & News Happening Elsewhere

Alright, folks, we are getting back out on the picket line. 

Donate to help us pay for food and gas as we cover the ironworkers’ strike at Strayer in Erie. 

Please, if you can, consider signing up as one of our 641 recurring donors.

Finally, keep sending story ideas, comments, tip and suggestions to [email protected] 

Love & Solidarity, 

Melk

About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter, who covered everything from the Brazilian labor movement to major league baseball and spent years covering union organizing in the South for The Guardian. In 2015, he used his NLRB settlement from being fired illegally for union organizing at Politico to start the crowd-funded Payday Report. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh but speaks Portuguese which he learned in journalism school in Rio de Janerio. Email: [email protected]m

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