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Thursday, December 9, 2021

Kellogg, cereal workers union restart negotiations amid strike

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Contract negotiations between the Kellogg and the union representing more than 1,000 striking cereal workers have restarted for the second time Monday. 

Kellogg and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, which overseas employees at plants in Omaha, Nebraska; Battle Creek, Michigan; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and Memphis, Tennessee, agreed to head back to the bargaining table even after the union rejected Kellogg’s “Last Best Final Offer” earlier this month.  

“We look forward to getting back to the table and are committed to negotiating in good faith,” Kellogg said in a statement. 

The employees – fed up over an assortment of pay and benefits issues – have been on strike since the beginning of October, threatening the supply of namesake brands like Froot Loops, Frosted Flakes and Apple Jack and forcing the cereal maker to continue “operations with other resources” to try and mitigate supply disruptions.

Last week the company said it’s resorted to “tapping our global manufacturing network and expertise” in addition to “currently hiring to fill roles” at the four plants that make the company’s well-known brands of cereal.  

Kellogg is also claiming in a new lawsuit that striking workers with the local union in Omaha have even been physically blocking entrances to its cereal plant and intimidating replacement workers as they enter the facility. 

Boxes of Kellogg's cereal including Apple Jacks
The strike could add to the food-supply shortages already frustrating stores.
Getty Images

The company also said in the lawsuit that people picketing outside the plant have threatened the lives of people working there, including “threatening that an individual’s wife and young children will be assaulted (including sexually) while he is away from home working with Kellogg.” 

Kellogg said it’s hoping to “reach an agreement soon so our employees can get back to work and back to their lives.”  

The two sides tried to negotiate new terms earlier this month but the union rejected Kellogg’s final offer, which expired at midnight on Nov. 11, saying it “was filled with conditions and terms as to what was acceptable to Kellogg’s” but “are unacceptable to our members.”  

“The company’s last best and final offer did not achieve what union members are asking for: a predictable pathway to fully vested employment without takeaways,” a spokesperson for the union previously said in a statement to FOX Business.  

Signs protesting the use of "scabs"
Some replacement workers allege strikers have assailed and threatened them.
Bloomberg via Getty Images

The union is arguing that the “BCTGM negotiating committee has proposed a progression to the company’s two-tiered system based on time, defining a pathway based on the number of years an employee is with the company. Workers have stated repeatedly they want improvements to the company’s transitional language.” 

Meanwhile, Kellogg’s said its final offer addressed the union’s “primary concerns” and argued that the union wasn’t interested or willing to revisit its proposals or explore “creative solutions to resolve issues” in order to end the ongoing contract negotiations. 

The company further claimed that the union rejected its final offer without even putting it before employees. 

“We asked the union to allow our employees to vote the offer,” said Kellogg CEO Steve Cahillane. “The union immediately rejected it and told us they would not put it before employees for a vote. We implore our cereal employees to demand their union put forth the offer for a vote.”

Cahillane, once president of Coca-Cola Americas, became CEO of Kellogg in 2017.



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