Bernie Sanders took a picket sign and marched with workers on Friday evening outside a Cedar Rapids, Iowa, plant. Sanders joined hundreds of workers on an informational picket line at the facility owned by a company called Ingredion.
The suburban Chicago firm that took over the former Penford Products plant last spring has been “waging a war against working families,” Sanders told workers gathered on a grassy slope at the nearby Riverside Park.
The senator and Democratic Party presidential candidate recalled that Ingredion CEO Ilene Gordon had pledged when the company arrived last March that her firm was “looking forward to a bright future together” with the Iowa workers. It hasn’t worked out that way.
A contract between the company and its union workers — represented by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union Local 100G — expired one month ago on Aug. 1 Employees have stayed on the job while they try to hammer out a new deal. But the company has not budged.
The Ingredion CEO reportedly was paid almost $8 million last year. She has a severance package that Sanders said would pay her $28 million. Meanwhile, the company has been pushing workers to settle for lower wages, longer hours, cuts in overtime pay, fewer holidays and vacation days. “Everybody knows that’s greed and everybody knows that greed is destroying the United States of America,” Sanders said.
The company must understand, the senator added, that “when you sit down and negotiate it’s not a take-it-or-leave-it proposition. You can’t get it all.”
He told the Cedar Rapids workers they are not alone. “This is going on all across the country, working people working longer hours for lower wages” while decent-paying jobs in the United States are shipped to China and other low-wage countries abroad.
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