By Don McIntosh
Kellogg’s, one of America’s most recognizable brands, is courting a lasting public backlash in its response to a strike now in its third month. About 1,400 workers have been on strike since Oct. 5 at Kellogg’s plants in Battle Creek, Michigan; Omaha, Nebraska; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and Memphis, Tennessee. Represented by Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers (BCTGM), they want an end an unfair “two-tier”system they agreed to in 2015, and have voted down several company offers that failed to do that. Under Kellogg’s two-tier arrangement, employees hired after 2015 get lower wages and benefits.
Last year, BCTGM members at Kellogg’s worked 52 to 56 hours a week on average. They kept operations moving during the pandemic, and made it possible for Kellogg’s to earn $13.8 billion revenue in 2020. Now they’re making a stand for fairness.
Kellogg’s, for its part, wants to maintain the two-tier system, and even proposes to stop putting the union label on cereal boxes.
On Dec. 7, the company escalated dramatically with an announcement that it intends to permanently replace strikers.
That drew condemnation from President Joe Biden, who said he was deeply troubled by those plans, adding that it ought to be illegal.
I am deeply troubled by reports of Kellogg’s plans to permanently replace striking workers. Permanently replacing striking workers is an existential attack on the union and its members’ jobs and livelihoods. I strongly support legislation that would ban that practice.
— President Biden (@POTUS) December 10, 2021
The PRO Act, which twice passed the Democratic house, but is tied up in the closely divided Senate, would outlaw the use of permanent striker replacements.
Online, union supporters have been monkey-wrenching the company’s efforts to hire scabs, filling out fake online applications to gum up the hiring process. A video by a union supporter on the social media site TikTok showed computer code he said was set to automatically create accounts, fill in personal details, and upload résumés to Kellogg’s job site.
Besides cereals like Rice Krispies, Raisin Bran, Froot Loops, Corn Flakes, Frosted Flakes, and Kashi, the company also makes Eggo waffles, Pop-Tarts, Pringles, Cheez-It, and the Gardenburger and Morningstar Farms meat alternatives.