Fighting for better wages, benefits and respect, workers at Kellogg, Deere and other companies quit their jobs in a new ‘Striketober’ movement

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There is growing and seething anger and resentment in the workplace. It manifested itself for the first time in the movement of the Great Resignation. Millions of Americans have quit their jobs.

These were mostly frontline workers who were announced at the start of the pandemic. We appreciated that they risked their health and safety by delivering food and packages, working in warehouses and distribution centers, driving us when we were worried about taking buses and subways, and meeting other needs while white collar workers stayed safe at home. As the epidemic worsened, many of these people were made redundant or put on leave.

Once the restrictions were relaxed and people were able to exit again, there was a dramatic and almost insatiable need for workers in restaurants, bars, hotels, airlines, sporting events, concerts, supermarkets, retail stores, department stores and department stores.

This time it was different. No one thanked the waiters, bartenders, retail store clerks or other blue collar workers. They had to deal with surly customers, people who did not wear masks, long and constantly changing hours, low wages and little or no growth potential. Workers are quitting their jobs in droves, believing there must be a better way to make a living and to be treated with respect and dignity.

We have now entered the next phase. This month, more than 100,000 workers are threatening to close their jobs or go on strike in a new movement called Striketober. ” Low wages, mediocre benefits and unfair treatment are some of the reasons given for this new trend.

Time reports that “In the first five days of October alone, there were 10 strikes in the United States, including workers at Kellogg factories in Nebraska, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Tennessee; school bus drivers in Annapolis, Maryland; and concierges at the Denver airport. This does not include the “nearly 60,000 members of the film and television production union who voted almost unanimously to grant the president of their union the power to call a strike.”

More than 1,400 Kellogg employees walked out on October 5 at a number of grain factories across the country. The union said the action was brought in a contractual dispute over health care, pension benefits, vacation and vacation pay. Workers and the union also argue that the company has threatened to move American jobs to Mexico.

The Kellogg company called the union’s allegations “grossly misleading” and said it had “not offered to move any serial jobs out of the United States.” on strike at the company’s grain plants across the country.

Over the summer, more than 600 Frito-Lay workers at a factory in Topeka, Kansas, quit work to protest their working conditions and forced overtime. Workers at the Nabisco factories went on strike in August to protest against plans by Nabisco’s parent company, Mondelez International, to move some of the work to Mexico, among others.

According to the Associated Press, more than 24,000 nurses and other healthcare workers at Kaiser Permanente, one of the country’s largest healthcare systems, have authorized a strike, threatening to resign over wages and working conditions .

A spokesperson for Kaiser Permanente said: “We ask our employees to reject a call to get away from patients who need it. Our priority is to continue to provide our members with high quality and safe care. In the event of a work stoppage of any kind, our facilities will be staffed with our doctors as well as trained and experienced managers and emergency personnel. ”

In the first major walkout in over thirty years, more than 10,000 Deere & Co. workers went on strike Thursday. They complained about poor wages, benefits and working conditions. The workers said their pay was minimal compared to the company’s record profits and the CEO’s substantial $ 14.7 million compensation package.

Democratic Senator Elizabeth Warren backed the strike, saying: “Workers have had their backs down for decades now. She added that in the past, the government “stood on the side of the giant companies” and that “that is starting to change”.

Brad Morris, vice president of labor relations at Deere, said in a statement: “We are committed to reaching a deal with the UAW that would put every employee in a better economic position and continue to make them the highest paid employees. in agriculture and construction industries ”, and“ We will continue to work day and night to understand the priorities of our employees and resolve this strike. ”

The rallying cry during the Covid-19 epidemic was “We are all in the same boat”. The cruel reality is that the pandemic has resulted in the enrichment of the rich. Billionaires have seen their collective net worth jump to billions. Knowledge workers were inconvenienced, but they could work safely from the comfort of their homes and mainly earned their wages.

On social media we are bombarded with dizzying new rich bragging about how much money they make trading memes stocks, cryptocurrencies, Spacs, and NFTs. Unicorn startups have struck millionaires overnight for their founders, executives, and some lucky employees. CEOs of big companies have kept their salaries lush and guys like Jeff Bezos, Mark Zuckerberg, and Elon Musk have grown richer than anyone could imagine.

American billionaires saw their wealth increase by $ 1.8 trillion during the pandemic, according to a report by Americans for Tax Fairness and the Institute for Policy Studies Program on Inequality. It came as more than 86 million Americans lost their jobs during the virus outbreak. The ranks of billionaires reached around 708 in August. The aggregate net worth of $ 4.7 trillion, as of Aug. 17, is greater than the total net worth of the poorest 50 percent of Americans.

Juxtapose that with the average waitress, warehouse worker, or Uber driver. They live a meager existence while watching others get rich. This is not an indictment against capitalism, it just shows how the pandemic has widened the wealth gap between Americans.

The long-term results of such a large wealth and power gap could turn America into a modern medieval feudal society in which there are a small number of incredibly wealthy people controlling the economy with the help of a coterie of lawyers, accountants, money managers and management consulting. The rest of the population will do most of the work for low wages, little dignity and poor treatment. No wonder the workers try to form unions and go on strike.

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