Employees at Kellogg Company (NYSE: K) walked off the job early in the morning on Oct. 5 after their contract expired at midnight without an agreement between their union and the company. Their strike demands are for a fair contract that provides a living wage and good benefits.
The strike affects Kellogg’s four locations:
- Battle Creek, Mich.
- Lancaster, Pa.
- Memphis, Tenn.
- Omaha, Neb.
Kellogg’s is one of the world’s leading cereal makers with popular brands including Rice Krispies, Frosted Flakes, Apple Jacks, Eggo waffles, Pop Tarts, Cheez-It, and Pringles. The company employs about 31,000 people who are represented by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers Union.
Contract extended last year after negotiations stalled.
Last year, after negotiations between the company and the union stalled, the two sides agreed to extend the contract until October 5, 2021.
The two parties have been back at the bargaining table for the past few weeks but haven’t been able to compromise on a deal. Union officials are concerned that Kellogg’s wants to create a permanent two-tier system that doesn't offer a path to full benefits and pension, gets rid of 100 percent healthcare and cost-of-living adjustments, and moves production to Mexico, Canada, or South America.
"As you hear the folks chanting, this is about our future not being for sale," said Trevor Bidelman, president of the Battle Creek union chapter, in an interview with Traverse City’s New Channel 3.
He also said, "A lot of things in our plant, they just don't really treat us like people. Our equipment gets three days off. We don't. We work 100 days in a row, 150 days in a row with no day off, no qualms about it. They have no issue telling us that we can't go to funerals of aunts and uncles and funerals of friends. No issue at all with treating us that we are just owed to this place. And that's how they've been treating us at least a decade."
It isn’t fair that some employees are paid better than others for doing the same job, union members say.
“Everybody in this plant makes incredible sacrifices that most people wouldn’t understand. They work eight days a week at least and that’s months on end without a scheduled day off. Some people at the plant don’t have a scheduled day for the entire year. We aren’t willing to accept that anymore,” Bryon Leche, an electrician for the company, told WOOD TV in Kalamazoo, Mich.
Kellogg’s says that it's committed to negotiating a fair contract.
In a statement, Kellogg’s officials said that they're “committed to negotiating a fair and competitive contract that reflects the contributions” of their employees.
“Our current proposals not only maintain industry-leading pay and benefits for employees but offer significant increases in wages, benefits and retirement. We remain available to talk with the union at any time, and we are prepared for any outcome at contract expiration,” Kellogg Company spokesperson Kris Bahner said in a statement.
Kellogg’s will lay off employees over the next two years.
According to WWMT television station in Kalamazoo, Kellogg’s announced in September that it plans to cut 212 jobs at one Battle Creek plant over the next two years. The company had already cut 223 jobs from the same plant in 2018, WWMT reports.
Meanwhile, sales have been pretty good for Kellogg’s. In 2020, the company reported $13.8 billion in net sales. It also had a stronger-than-expected second quarter of 2021 with net sales increasing 3 percent YoY.