CWA President Larry Cohen joined the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union at their 39th Constitutional Convention this week, addressing delegates on fighting to secure our standard of living.
Top: BCTGM International President David B. Durkee introducing Cohen.
"American workers have not had a raise in 40 years," Cohen told the delegates. "The question today is how one person makes almost 400 times what the average worker makes?"
On Tuesday, 225 BCTGM workers returned to work at Kellogg's cereal plant in Memphis, Tenn., where they make Frosted Flakes and Froot Loops, when a judge ordered Kellogg's to end a nine-month long lockout of the workers.
Kellogg was attempting to shrink its skilled workforce and bring in lower paid, disposable workers – shutting out those who refused to accept the company's outrageous take-backs in the process. But the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) filed a lawsuit against Kellogg seeking a temporary injunction. And Judge Samuel H. Mays, Jr., of the Western District of Tennessee, ordered Kellogg to end the lockout, reinstate workers, re-establish old employment conditions and bargain with the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) in good faith.
Cohen praised the amazing examples of resolve and resistance of BCTGM activists in the Kellogg's lockout in Memphis as well as last year with Hostess and Crystal Sugar. He talked about the importance of a fully functioning NLRB, which brought the lawsuit that eventually ended the Memphis lockout.
The way to ensure government agencies like the NLRB actually function on behalf of working people is to continue to grow the Democracy Initiative that CWA started with progressive groups to get money out of politics and people in; to fix the broken Senate rules which, for a time, kept the NLRB from having a full slate of members and to restore voting rights across the nation.
Membership in the groups engaged in the Democracy Initiative, Cohen said, is as many as 50 million people and all those members need to be engaged to fight for the country they want, a country that works on behalf of working people.