November 18, 2022

Kellogg’s Workers End Strike

The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers’ International Union said workers voted to approve a new five-year collective bargaining agreement with the company. The vote was held on Sunday and the ballots were counted on Tuesday.

Anthony Shelton, the union’s president, said in a statement that workers courageously stood their ground and secured a contract that makes gains and does not include any concessions.

The strike involved 1,400 workers at four facilities in Battle Creek, Michigan; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Omaha, Nebraska; and Memphis, Tennessee, significantly cutting back production of household-name cereal brands like Rice Krispies and Corn Flakes.

One of the main sticking points in the dispute was the company’s two-tier compensation system that divides workers into two different classes, legacy employees and transitional employees. Legacy workers, who typically earn around $30 an hour, have a higher pay scale and better health and pension benefits than their transitional counterparts.

Under the new deal, all workers will receive an immediate raise, after which they’ll receive a cost-of-living adjustment each year of the contract, according to an outline from the company. The new starting rate for transitional employees will be $24.11 per hour. All workers’ health care plans will stay the same, and pension benefits will increase for legacy workers.

The agreement does not end the two-tier system, but it offers a path for some transitional employees to graduate into the legacy tier. Transitional workers who have four years on the job will immediately move into legacy positions when the contract is ratified. At each plant, another 3% of workers will move into legacy roles each year of the contract.

But Trevor Bidelman, president of the union’s local in Battle Creek, said he felt the contract did not go far enough in curbing the system already in place. He said he fears the company can exploit the language to increase the ranks of lower-tier employees. He would have preferred a system in which all transitional workers are guaranteed to move up after a certain amount of time.

Unfortunately, I think some people will get stuck in transitional Bidelman told HuffPost. At our local we were a little disappointed. That being said, we’ve got to take some time and reflection.

Despite the contract not being what he hoped for, Bidelman said he was proud of members who took to the picket lines against a powerful company that was demanding concessions. The workers drew supporters from around the U.S. and overseas who said they wouldn’t buy the company’s products until they settled a fair contract. Sen. Bernie Sanders joined workers for a rally in Michigan on Saturday.

Workers had rejected a similar deal in a vote two weeks earlier, opting to stay out on strike in hopes of securing a better offer. Kellogg’s responded by threatening to permanently replace them with other workers, meaning strikers might never return to their jobs.