Welcome my friends, to my much beloved home town of Battle Creek. One needs only to take a cursory glance around to figure out who the dominant force in this town is: KELLOGG Community College, W.K.KELLOGG Junior High School & W.K.KELLOGG Auditorium, KELLOGG World Headquarters, KELLOGG Center Arena. That grotesque Tony the Tiger hot air balloon that has become almost symbolic of Battle Creek. The yearly cereal festival, and let's not forget that self aggrandizing monument to the GRRRRREATNESS of cereal: Cereal City, USA, a museum of cereal populated by all our favorite corporate characters, only in this town. So have you figured it out yet? BINGO! This town is run by KELLOGGS.
Outside of the obvious major things bearing the family name, Kelloggs has bought up many downtown businesses that were failing, including McCamly Place and Stouffers hotel. They have also contributed tons of money to the cause of downtown develpment. All to bolster the image of a thriving town devoted to them because their world headquarters is here. Now you tell me, given all the money these guys are throwing around would you want to be the city council member that doesn't kiss Kelloggs butt, thereby pissing them off!? Me neither.
They love to paint themseleves as our loving older brother, the corporation that cares about the people of Battle Creek. Nothing my friends could be further from the truth. The actions of the past few years have exposed the executives at Kelloggs for exactly what they are: Greedy, money grubbing, ruthless creeps who are interested only in filling their pockets even fuller, and if the working men and women who make their product have to suffer in order to meet that goal, so be it.
In late 1995 our beloved older brother Kelloggs CEO Arnold Langbo announced that because of increased competition and because they now only sold 35% of all the breakfast cereal in the world that 800 workers in the Battle Creek plant would be laid off, as well as many other workers at other plants in the U.S.
Now, try to keep in mind that 35% of all the worlds cereal down from 40 something percent still translates into millions upon millions of dollars in profit. Try to also keep in mind that Kelloggs stock has stayed very high somewhat consistently. It takes no genius to figure out that Kelloggs' executes were faced with a tough choice: take less of a pay increase this year or let go a few of the workers, Arnold Langbo, Phil Stewart and their cronies did what any self respecting corportate executive would do, they chose to let the workers suffer the consequences.
These workers were not a bunch of folks who had just started in the factories, these were life time employees who had devoted their lives to working at Kelloggs. 10 years or more, most of them. There were amny who had been there over 20 years and were looking forward to retiring and collecting the pension they'd spent their lives working towards. The average union worker there made 21 bux an hour. Certainly nothing comparted to the high muck a mucks but still enough to make a good life for themselves and their fiamilies. And in an economy that has gradually marginalized unions and the working man, decent living wages have become increasinly rare these days. So here's all these factor rats with mortgages and car payments, and college tuition expenses for their kids, looking forward to retirement and suddenly they have been told: "Sorry bud. Party's over". The severance package although generous was a very far cry from retirement for these workers. Some, not all, employees over 20 years were offered $42,000 or $750 a month until they qualified for Social Security. Some not all of the employees who had worked less than 20 years were simply offered a $42,000 buyout. And then of course let's not forget those men and women who got nothing. There were plenty of those. To people like me who have nothing, such a buyout sounds good but when you think that $42,000 is equal to a years pay for these people, $42,000 that fed and housed their families and saw that needs were met after that one years pay was used, these folks were screwed. They were faced with the choices of either selling off many of their possessions and living meagerly or having spouseds go to work full time and finding some kind of job themselves that was unlikely to be close to what they made because union shops these days are more rare. Basically the way of life they had built through working for Kelloggs was destroyed so that stock holders could continue to make more money. 800 families slammed from working middle class to near poverty, for the sake of greater corporate profit.
And what did Kelloggs do as soon as the union workers were out of the picture? One month after the layoffs occurred they opened a plant in China and a plant in Argentina. A bit later that yaer they opened a plant in Thailand. The workers in these countries are easy to exploit because they literally work for pennies. I bet if Kelloggs were "generous" and offered them the equivalent of $1.25 an hour that would be double what most other workers earn in those countries.
An interesting sidenote to this whole story is that around this time a leftist workers group called "International Brotherhood of Workers" was circulating a newsletter to factory workers in the area. They claim that their publication was quietly banned by Battle Creek police at the request of Kelloggs. Since the details of these allegations are scarce and sketchy, at best we here at Cornflake OD cannot comment as to their truthfulness, but given everything else it sure makes you wonder, don't it?
So here in Battle Creek, it remains as it always has. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer. Many of you out there may be thinking: "Why is COD telling me this?" Glad you asked. We're telling you for several reasons. Firstly, to tell you why we're called Cornflake Overdose. We're sick of having Tony the Tiger shoved down our throats to make us forget how little Kelloggs or any major corporation cares for anyone except their own greedy selves.
Secondly becuase you can do somehthing. Especially you readers who live here in Battle Creek. Send a message by not buying anything from Kelloggs. Just don't guy it. Buy generic or store brand. Heck, you'll even save yourselves money if you do that. Make T-shirts & bumper stickers saying: "Kelloggs Sucks" or something. If people in Battle Creek and around the country make it known thatvwe know what's happening and think it sucks maybe something will change. Probably not though. But at least our money will not be spent to help exploit workers in 3rd world countries. Again, we at COD are calling for punks and working people everywhere to boycott Kelloggs until they have made considerable steps to change their evil ways. We are also encouraging all other zines to reprint this article to spread this message to as many other folks as possible.
As a final note we would like to thank you for taking the time to read this and would like to say to any corporate spies working for Kelloggs who may read this that we at Cornflake Overdose are committed to rubbing your face in your own corporate poop until we grow tired of railing on you, and as long as we tell only the truth, the 1st amendment of the Constitution has protected our speech so take your bulging wallet and your brand new car and go cry to your jewel covered wives.