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From Kellogg's to Nabisco: The strikes behind America's growing labor movement

Striking Kellogg's workers outside the Omaha, Neb., cereal plant. (AP Photo/Josh Funk)
Striking Kellogg's workers outside the Omaha, Neb., cereal plant. (AP Photo/Josh Funk)

Mike Burlingham has worked for Nabisco in Portland, Oregon for 14 years. The bakery is understaffed and open 24/7 to keep up with demand.

Meaning too much work, and too little time with his kids.

“I’m watching them grow up. And I’m kind of at a point right now, I’m like, Man, I feel like I’ve missed a lot of time with my kids,” he says. “And that takes a toll on your mental health. … I spend more time with my coworkers than I do with my very own family.”

So Burlingham went on strike.

“People walking out on their job and willingly saying that I am willing to take to the street and not get a paycheck and potentially lose everything for this cause,” he says. “And to do so with a huge grin on your face? I mean, what does that say?”

Today, On Point: Kellogg’s workers strike for months. A successful Union drive at one Starbucks. Approval rates for unions at a 60-year high. We discuss the sharp rise in union activity in 2021.

Guests

Steven Greenhouse, freelance journalist. Reporter at the New York Times for 31 years, who covered labor and the workplace for 19 years. Author of “Beaten Down, Worked Up.” (@greenhousenyt)

Jeff Farmer, director of organizing at the Teamsters since 2002.

Also Featured

Saru Jayaraman, president of One Fair Wage and Director, Food Labor Research Center at University of California Berkeley. (@SaruJayaraman)

Mike Burlingham, Nabisco worker in Portland, Oregon.

Jon Lazeroff, Pavement Coffeehouse worker in Allston, MA.

From The Reading List

The American Prospect: “A Look at How Unions Lift Workers” — “More than 14 million workers across the United States—carpenters, steelworkers, nurses, teachers, truck drivers, and many others—are union members, but rarely does one read how unions have improved workers’ jobs and lives.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.