Memphis Bakery Workers seek public support for 2-month strike
Courtesy of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers union

MEMPHIS, Tenn.—Bakery Workers Local 399G members in Memphis, Tenn., forced to strike at the start of June for respect and against their profitable employer’s demand for no overtime pay and health care benefit cuts, are going public with their struggle with the firm, International Flavors and Fragrances.

The 200 workers, who make soy protein products which Nestle uses for candy, Purina uses for dog chow and Abbott Nutrition uses for other foods and beverages, were forced to walk on June 5.

They’ve been out on the streets in Memphis, in the nation’s record heat wave, ever since. Now, online, they want consumers to demand IFF’s board force CEO Frank Clayburn back to bargaining in good faith for a new contract. “He’s turned a deaf ear” to his workers, many of them workers of color, their parent union, the Bakery, Confectionery and Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers, reports.

“I’m striking because of unfair negotiations and the right to an honest living for an honest day of work,” lead production operator Cornelius Moore, an 11-year veteran, told BCTGM. “I’m fighting for the younger generation of workers because I have a young family and my nieces, nephews, and younger sister are employed at this same plant.

“I’m striking for fair wages and a fair day of work,” added Brad King, a maintenance specialist for five years. “I’m fighting for all the employees who, like me, went to work during Covid (the coronavirus) and made the company record profits. The company came to negotiations and basically spit in our faces.”

BCTGM President Anthony Shelton reported International Flavors and Fragrances is worth $12 billion.

But it demands workers forgo overtime pay—pay mandated by federal law—and pay more for their health insurance “without regard for the well-being of the hardworking men and women who make the product supplied to global giants like Nestle and Abbott Manufacturing, among others.”

Shelton praised Local 399G members “for taking a strong stand against this company’s greed.”

BCTGM will support its local members “for as long as it takes to force the company to negotiate a fair contract that rewards them for their hard work and dedication and protects their future,” he promised.

We hope you appreciated this article. At People’s World, we believe news and information should be free and accessible to all, but we need your help. Our journalism is free of corporate influence and paywalls because we are totally reader-supported. Only you, our readers and supporters, make this possible. If you enjoy reading People’s World and the stories we bring you, please support our work by donating or becoming a monthly sustainer today. Thank you!


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.