By Stephen Rodrick
Source: Rolling Stone
The shelves at the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers’ International Union Local 50 are lined with boxes of Kellogg’s products that the union members and their mothers, brothers, and grandfathers have packed over the past century. A Froot Loops box commemorating the 2012 Olympics sits next to Special K Plus, a cereal that for some reason comes in a milk carton. A toy truck delivers Corn Flakes. Still, what catches your eye is a box featuring an impossibly cute boy slurping up his Rice Krispies. No one knows when exactly the box is from — probably the early 20th century — but it conjures a homier time for the company. That’s when company founder W.K. Kellogg was asked about profits and said, “I’ll invest my money in people.”
That was a long time ago. Now, the investment only goes to certain people, like Kellogg CEO Steve Cahillane. He brings in nearly $12 million a year in compensation, nearly 280 times the company average.
The workers? They’ve time-traveled to William Blake’s dark-satanic-mills era of factory work, where a purposely understaffed labor force endures, according to union workers, 72- to 84-hour work weeks — not a typo — that includes mandated overtime and a point system that dings you if you dare beg off to go watch your son’s Little League game. (Kellogg’s claims its employees only work 52 to 56 hours a week and 90 percent of overtime is voluntary, a claim BCTGM workers hotly dispute.)