Union workers ‘overwhelmingly’ reject latest Kellogg deal
Workers picket outside of the Kellogg cereal plant in Battle Creek, Oct. 19, 2021. (Laina G. Stebbins)

The nine week-long workers’ strike against cereal giant Kellogg is set to continue, following a weekend vote in which 1,400 Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) employees “overwhelmingly” rejected the company’s latest proposal.

That tentative deal reached on Wednesday had proposed 3% raises, enhanced benefits and an “accelerated” path for new workers to secure their spot as “legacy” rather than “transitional” employees.

But the union workers at four cereal plants around the country, including 325 workers in Battle Creek, have been striking primarily for the permanent end of that two-tier system. They rejected the deal on Sunday.

“The members have spoken. The strike continues. The International Union will continue to provide full support to our striking Kellogg’s members,” BCTGM International President Anthony Shelton said Tuesday.

The union workers in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nebraska and Tennessee have been on strike since midnight on Oct. 5 when their master contract with Kellogg expired.

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“After weeks of negotiations, members were given the opportunity to vote on a tentative agreement to end the strike and they overwhelmingly voted it down,” said BCTGM Local 3G President Trevor Bidelman.

“Our members are strong-willed, and they understand the importance of fighting for a truly FAIR contract. They will not be deterred until our demands for better wages, safer working conditions, and an end to the two-tiered wage system are met. One day longer, one day stronger.”

Ron Beiber, president of the Michigan AFL-CIO, said the state federation of labor “is dedicated to stand with our BCTGM brothers and sisters through the Kellogg Strike, no matter how long it takes.

“Strikes are tough, but the solidarity of Michigan’s labor movement is powerful and this was proven by the constant visits to the Battle Creek picket line, and countless monetary, food and goods donations made to Local 3G. We’re damn proud of the solidarity shown by Michigan’s labor unions, and that solidarity will continue until BCTGM members have a fair contract,” Beiber continued.

The AFL-CIO is the state federation of labor that represents about one million active and retired members of 59 unions in Michigan.

In a statement on its website, Kellogg said it is “disappointed” that the tentative agreement was not ratified by employees and argued that the proposed deal “included no concessions or takeaways.”

“We have made every effort to reach a fair agreement, including making six offers to the union throughout negotiations, all which have included wage and benefits increases for every employee. It appears the union created unrealistic expectations for our employees,” Kellogg said.

The company once again emphasized that it is actively looking to hire permanent replacement workers in positions vacated by striking employees.

As of Tuesday, there are no further meetings or bargaining sessions scheduled between the parties.

“Given that the strike will continue, our focus must continue to be on executing the next phase of our contingency plan,” Kellogg said.

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