Consumers may soon find grocery shelves with fewer cereal choices. An estimated 1,400 Kellogg’s workers are picketing the company after a breakdown in negotiations between union and management, putting the production of all its cereals on hold.
The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union said employees in Battle Creek, Mich., Lancaster, Penn., Omaha, Neb., and Memphis, Tenn. -- locations where Corn Flakes, Frosted Flakes, Froot Loops, Apple Jacks, Rice Krispies, Frosted Krispies, and Cocoa Krispies are produced -- have been working hard ever since the pandemic erupted and that they’re not being treated fairly.
"For more than a year throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, Kellogg workers around the country have been working long, hard hours, day in and day out, to produce Kellogg ready-to-eat cereals for American families," said Anthony Shelton, president of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union.
“Kellogg is making these demands as they rake in record profits, without regard for the well-being of the hardworking men and women who make the products that have created the company’s massive profits.”
Kevin Bradshaw, vice president of union local 252G in Memphis, said consumers are pretty much out of luck until things are resolved. "So there's no one inside to make cereal in any of the four plants," he told the Commercial Appeal.
What the workers want
From the workers’ standpoint, they don’t think they’re asking for much. The group is seeking restructured contracts and more respect and appreciation for helping keep the company afloat during the pandemic when consumer demand for cereal shot through the roof.
“We are proud of our Kellogg members for taking a strong stand against this company’s greed and we will support them for as long as it takes to force Kellogg to negotiate a fair contract that rewards them for their hard work and dedication and protects the future of all Kellogg workers.”
Shelton said Kellogg’s response has been both demanding and threatening. He claimed that the company is demanding that workers “give up quality health care, retirement benefits, and holiday and vacation pay.”
“The company continues to threaten to send additional jobs to Mexico if workers do not accept outrageous proposals that take away protections that workers have had for decades," he added.
In a statement, Kellogg's spokesperson Kris Bahner said the company is willing to continue talks and noted that its workers are already well-paid.
"We are disappointed by the union’s decision to strike. Kellogg provides compensation and benefits for our U.S. (ready to eat cereal) employees that are among the industry’s best,” Bahner said in a statement given to Commercial Appeal.
"The majority of employees working under this Master Contract enjoy a (consumer packaged goods) industry-leading level of pay and benefits, which include above-market wages and pension or 401(k). The average 2020 earnings for the majority of (ready-to-eat cereal) employees was $120,000.”