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Kellogg's workers go on strike: 'The level we're working at is unsustainable'

All 1,400 workers at Kellogg's plants in the United States have gone on strike, demanding fair wages and better working conditions.

Kellogg's workers go on strike: 'The level we're working at is unsustainable'
Image Source: HannahWWMT / Twitter

Work at all of the Kellogg's Company's United States cereal plants stalled on Tuesday as about 1,400 workers went on strike. Workers from plants in Omaha, Nebraska Battle Creek, Michigan; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and Memphis, Tennessee, were part of the strike. The strike comes after several months of negotiations between workers and management. Part of the workers' criticisms includes an assortment of pay and benefits issues, such as the loss of premium health care, holiday and vacation pay, as well as reduced retirement benefits. It remains unclear how the strike will affect the supply of the company's iconic brands and products, ABC News reports.


Anthony Shelton, president of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers International Union, stated, "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." For Daniel Osborn, the president of the local union in Omaha, the threats to send jobs to Mexico do not sit well. "A lot of Americans probably don't have too much issue with the Nike or Under Armor hats being made elsewhere or even our vehicles, but when they start manufacturing our food down where they are out of the FDA control and OSHA control," he said. "I have a huge problem with that."


According to Kellogg's spokesperson Kris Bahner, the company is dissatisfied with the union's decision to strike. The company has insisted that its offer is fair and would increase wages and benefits for its employees (who reportedly made an average of $120,000 a year last year). "We are disappointed by the union’s decision to strike," Bahner said in an official statement. "Kellogg provides compensation and benefits for our US ready to eat cereal employees that are among the industry’s best."


At some point later this week, Osborn expects the company to try to bring non-union workers into the plants in an attempt to resume operations and maintain the supply of its products. Kellogg's acknowledged that it would be "implementing contingency plans" so as to limit disruptions in supply for its customers. However, some customers have pledged to stop buying Kellogg's products in solidarity with the company's workers. Throughout the pandemic, all of its plants have continued to operate. For much of this time, workers were working in 12-hour shifts, seven days a week in order to keep up production as so many people were out due to the virus, Osborn noted. He affirmed, "The level we were working at is unsustainable."



Kellogg's workers are not the first to strike during the pandemic. Earlier this year, over 600 workers at a Frito-Lay plant in Topeka, Kansas, protested poor working conditions during the pandemic, including forced overtime. The demonstration ended in July when workers ratified a new contract. Similarly, Nabisco workers in plants across five states went on strike to protest plans by Nabisco’s parent company, Mondelez International, to move some work to Mexico, among other issues. That strike ended last month when Nabisco workers too ratified a new contract. The Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers International Union hopes to achieve the same results with Kellogg's workers.

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