Photo: Kellogg’s Factory in Memphis, Tennessee (Source: Thomas R Machnitzki)
By Peter Garland
1,400 workers at Kellogg’s cereal plants went on strike Tuesday after their contract expired, forming picket lines outside all four of the company’s cereal production facilities in the US. The workers are represented by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union (BCTGM), and are striking in Omaha, Nebraska; Battle Creek, Michigan; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and Memphis, Tennessee.
Negotiations broke down last week after over a year at the negotiating table. The proposed contract offered a two-tier pay system, which pays new employees significantly less than other employees for the same work, and gives them reduced benefits and no pension. The union previously agreed to this in 2015, but the workers demand an end to this system.
The proposed contract also raised the cost of health care, attacked retirement benefits, and reduced holiday and vacation pay. The plants have continued to operate throughout the pandemic, forcing workers to work 12-hour shifts, seven days a week to keep up production.
In 2013 Kellogg’s locked out the employees at its Memphis factory for 275 days, until a federal judge ordered the company to allow its employees to return to work.
Bryon Leche, an electrician at the Battle Creek plant, told the local NBC affiliate: “Some people at the plant don’t have a scheduled day off for the entire year. We’re not willing to accept that anymore. So we’re going to stand up for our transitional employees at the plant that deserve better.”
In 2020, Kellogg’s reported a total revenue of $13.77 billion. Earlier this year, the company announced that it was going to eliminate over 200 jobs at the Battle Creek factory by 2023, as well an additional 250 jobs at another facility in Ohio by the end of this year. Like other imperialist monopolies, the company has moved many operations to oppressed nations such as Mexico in order to exploit cheaper labor costs. According to the union, Kellogg’s is threatening to move more jobs to Mexico if workers do not concede to the company’s inadequate contract offers.
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