About 1,400 members of four Bakery, Confectionery and Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) locals went on strike Oct. 5 after months of working mandatory 12-hour shifts seven days a week at Kellogg’s plants in Battle Creek, Mich., Omaha, Neb. Lancaster, Pa., and Memphis, Tenn. They’re striking for an end to a two-tier wage system that now pays the most recent hires, 30% of the workforce, more than $11 an hour less than more senior co-workers. They’re also rejecting company demands to cut health and retirement benefits for new hires. The workers produce Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes, Rice Krispies, Raisin Bran and Corn Flakes, among others.
The contract talks have been at an impasse for more than a year. Kellogg’s is demanding concessions from workers at a time when it’s highly profitable, and is paying its CEO $11.7 million a year. It even wants to stop printing the union label on cereal boxes.
A week into the strike, the company was attempting to restart operations using replacement workers.
Aggressive labor relations isn’t new at Kellogg’s, which locked out 226 members of Memphis Local 252G for nine months in 2013-14. A federal judge eventually ordered the firm to reinstate the workers with back pay.
BCTGM President Anthony Shelton says the company has also continually threatened to shift jobs to Mexico.
“Kellogg’s response to these loyal, hardworking employees has been to demand these workers give up quality health care, retirement benefits, and holiday and vacation pay.” Shelton said in a press statement.