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UNION BOOSTING

Reddit users are taking up the cause of Kellogg’s striking workers

A close-up of workers holding signs that say they are on strike from Kellogg's factory.
Reuters/Emily Elconin
Still on strike.
  • Courtney Vinopal
By Courtney Vinopal

Breaking news reporter

Published

Approximately 1,400 Kellogg’s union workers have been on strike since Oct. 5 at factories in Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee over outstanding issues in their contract negotiations. The workers, who are represented by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers International Union, rejected a tentative agreement offered by Kellogg’s on Dec. 7.

On that same day Kellogg’s said it planned to hire permanent workers to replace the employees on strike. “While certainly not the result we had hoped for, we must take the necessary steps to ensure continuity,” Kellogg’s North American president Chris Hood said in a statement.

At least one subreddit community has an answer to this common union-busting tactic: Flood Kellogg’s job website with fake applications, making it harder to replace union workers.

The subreddit r/antiwork wants to support Kellogg’s employees

The idea to support Kellogg’s workers began circulating today (Dec. 9) on the subreddit r/antiwork. In a post that now has 56,000 upvotes, user BloominFunions shares links to several jobs posted by Kellogg’s at the sites where workers are striking, and encourages users to submit fake applications to “clog their toilet of an application pipeline.”

The user recommends fake applicants use sample resumes from Google images, along with zip codes and area codes from the cities where the jobs are listed to avoid being filtered out. User Alarmed_Tree_723 shared a post recommending people use Microsoft Edge to auto-fill applications, making it easier to fill out several at a time. Kellogg’s did not immediately reply to a request for comment.

The support for Kellogg’s union workers is no surprise coming from r/antiwork, a subreddit that gained more than 900,000 new members this year and been described as “the poster child of the Great Resignation.” On r/antiwork, users commiserate about poor pay and labor conditions, often posting messages of solidarity for striking workers across the retail, entertainment, and manufacturing sectors.

This recent wave of US strikes has been driven in part by an increased sense of worker power at a time when employers are struggling to fill positions. Kellogg’s workers currently striking are fighting a two-tier wage system first agreed to in 2015 in which new employees earn lower wages initially and receive different benefits than veteran employees. The new contract would have moved up workers with at least four years of pay to the higher tier of employees, and given longtime employees a 3% pay raise. The union says workers overwhelmingly rejected it.

Kellogg’s has made clear in its job applications that they are seeking to permanently replace striking workers to keep their lines running. It’s a common tactic, but it’s not illegal. Under US labor law, the striking workers should be put at the top of a rehire list if, and when, they want to return to work.

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