How striking Iowa workers prepare for Thanksgiving with no paychecks

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

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

BCTGM strike in Cedar Rapids

The approximately 100 BCTGM Local 100-G employees who hold the line at Ingredion in Cedar Rapids have been with the company since August 1st.

Negotiations have been going pretty well lately, union president Mike Moore told Starting Line. For now, the two sides plan to meet next week after Thanksgiving to try to iron out any remaining disagreements.

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

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

“I have a lot of members who have kids,” Moore said. Though his own kids are grown, “I know we’re going to have to cut things down and postpone Christmas quite a bit, 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 says his members appreciate especially at this time of year.

Donations can be made at either Teamsters Local 238 (5000 J Street SW, Cedar Rapids) or 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 — although they have held the fort longer since May 2. But unlike BCTGM, their strike continues with no end in sight.

The last time she and Case-New Holland International sat at a table was September 28, union president Nick Guernsey said.

As their strike joins forces with another CNHi plant in Racine, Wisconsin, which totals more than 1,000 members, they’ve called on the big guns to help negotiate the standoff: US Secretary of Labor Marty Walsh.

“He has agreed to fill in but we are still awaiting feedback from the company,” Guernsey told Starting Line this week. He said he thinks the company’s goal is “to break the union,” but for its members, “we want to get this over with.”

Speaking of packaging, although he didn’t find many takers for his turkey offering this Thanksgiving, next month members filled out a wish list of Christmas gifts for their kids. Just like with her back-to-school register, Guernsey said he’s grateful for any help from the community.

“People from all over the country have supported us,” he said.

That includes fellow unionists at nearby Ford, General Motors and John Deere plants, who Guernsey says have all “been key to keeping us going.”

In particular, he had kind words for the Deere people. He said they “really did everything they could” to bring food to the strike kitchen, buy gift cards and even send entire trucks of food from Ottumwa.

“We will never be able to pay them back,” Guernsey said. Instead, he said he knew members “will just pass it on if another local strikes.”

by Amie Rivers

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