A powerful image has surfaced online showing a Kellogg’s worker standing strong on a picket line during torrential rain amid ongoing industrial action.
As many as 1,400 Kellogg Company employees from the firm’s U.S. cereal plants have been on strike since Tuesday, October 5, over a host of employment issues including the potential loss of premium healthcare, holiday pay and some vacation time.
There are also concerns among union leaders that some jobs could be moved to Mexico, where production and employee labor aren’t overseen by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or Occupational Safety and Health Administration.
While strike action is ongoing, the plight of those Kellogg’s workers has been thrown into sharp focus after a picture taken from the picket line went viral on social media.
The image depicts an unidentified Kellogg’s employee, holding a protest sign aloft amid an onslaught of heavy rain. Several fires, only recently extinguished by the rainfall, can be seen in the shot, while the worker stands tall in a hooded jacket, seemingly unmoved by the elements.
The image was first posted to the Kellogg Union Members Appreciation Page on Facebook alongside a caption that reads: “Middle of the night- torrential downpour- fire is drowned out- BUT Local 50g stands strong and our picket sign is higher now than ever before.”
It was also shared by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers’ International Union, which posted the picture a few hours later in a show of solidarity.
“This grainy, foggy cell phone photo taken by Erin Shaffer in Omaha, Neb. (Local 50G) is worth a thousand words,” an accompanying caption read.
Shaffer has been contacted by Newsweek for comment.
The emotive picture has since gained traction on Reddit, where a post of the image has already been upvoted more than 86,000 times.
Labor and economic justice reporter Michael Sainato also shared the snap with followers on Twitter, where it has earned over 8,400 retweets and 48,000 likes.
The picture has drawn widespread support across Facebook, Twitter and Reddit, with many eager to show their support for the Kellogg’s workers’ efforts.
On Facebook, Sarah Stewart Atkinskon praised the “amazing strength and solidarity” depicted in the post and urged those on strike to “stay strong.”
“Every employee deserves respect and dignified working conditions,” Anne Elizabeth commented. “Standing with you.”
On Twitter, a user posting as Tekken3Enjoyer wrote: “Imagine how bad his working conditions are when he’s willing to go this far.”
BranMinds, meanwhile, proposed: “If people feel this strong, then don’t purchase ANY Kelloggs cereal until the contract is agreed to on both sides.”
Over on Reddit, ToasterPie urged the man in the picture to “stay the course brother” while LilSpazJoekp declared that the striker deserved “a hug” for their efforts.
SovietPaddy put it more bluntly, commenting: “This man had enough.”
In statement addressing the industrial action, Kellogg’s said the details of its contract proposals had been “grossly misrepresented.”
“Our proposals have been grossly misrepresented by the Union in statements to their membership and to media, and we want our employees to have all the information they need to make informed decisions for themselves and their families,” Kellogg Company spokesperson Kris Bahner said in a statement.
Bahner also rejected union claims that Kellogg’s was asking workers to give up health care, retirement benefits and vacation pay. She dismissed the idea the company would move jobs to Mexico if workers rejected its proposals.
“Kellogg is ready, willing and able to continue negotiations at any time,” Bahner added.
“In the meantime, we have a responsibility to our business, customers and consumers to run our plants, despite the strike. We are continuing operations with other resources and hope that we can reach an agreement soon.”