How Striking Iowa Workers Prepare For Thanksgiving Without A Paycheck

Striking Ingredion workers hold the line in Cedar Rapids on Nov. 9, 2022.

Higher food prices and missing paychecks are a recipe for a tough holiday season for hundreds of striking workers in Iowa. However, their unions and community supporters are trying to make it all a little easier on them.

BCTGM strike in Cedar Rapids

The roughly 100 BCTGM Local 100-G workers holding the line at Ingredion in Cedar Rapids have been at it since Aug. 1.

Negotiations are going pretty well as of late, union president Mike Moore told Starting Line. Tentatively the two sides plan to meet next week after Thanksgiving to try and iron out the last remaining areas of disagreement.

To help them through this week, Moore said he and Rick Moyle from Hawkeye Area Labor Council were able to round up 42 turkeys to hand out Saturday, plus vouchers for turkeys for those who didn’t get the real thing.

With Christmas a month away, the two are also working on getting a gift registry together for families with young children. Even if an agreement is reached next week and members agree to it and get back on the job right away, they’ll still have to wait weeks for their first full paychecks.

“I have a lot of members that have kids,” Moore said. Though his own children are grown, “I know we’ll have to cut back on stuff and pretty much put Christmas off, and I don’t want to do that.”

He said other unions and community members have been generous with their donations, particularly food and gift cards, which he said his members particularly appreciate this time of year.

Those wanting to drop off donations can do so either at the Teamsters Local 238 (5000 J Street SW, Cedar Rapids) or at IBEW Local 405 (1211 Wiley Boulevard SW, Cedar Rapids).

UAW strike in Burlington

Another 440 members of UAW Local 807 are in a similar position—though they’ve held the line longer, since May 2. But unlike BCTGM, their strike continues with no end in sight.

The last time they and Case-New Holland International were at the table was Sept. 28, said union president Nick Guernsey.

Since their strike is joined with another CNHi plant in Racine, Wisconsin, totaling more than 1,000 members, they’ve called in the big guns to assist in negotiating the stalemate: US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh.

“He’s agreed to step in, but we’re still waiting to hear back from the company,” Guernsey told Starting Line this week. He said he thinks the company goal is to “break the union,” but for his members, “We want to get this wrapped up.”

Speaking of wrapping: Though he didn’t get a lot of takers on his offer of turkeys this Thanksgiving, members did fill out a wish list of Christmas gifts for their children next month. Just like with their back-to-school registry, Guernsey said he’s grateful for any help from the community.

“People from across the country have been supporting us,” he said.

That includes fellow union members at the Ford, General Motors, and John Deere plants nearby, all of whom Guernsey said had “been key to keeping us going.”

In particular, he had kind words for the Deere folks. He said they “really went above and beyond” bringing food items to the strike kitchen, buying gift cards, and even sending whole trucks of food from Ottumwa.

“We’re never going to be able to repay them,” Guernsey said. Instead, he said he knows members will “just pay it forward when another local goes on strike.”


by Amie Rivers

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1 Comment on "How Striking Iowa Workers Prepare For Thanksgiving Without A Paycheck"

  • Going on strike is a choice. And considering double digit “Bidenflation” and runaway energy costs I hope they get at least a 10% pay hike.

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