How long could they hold out? ONE DAY LONGER than management could. Striking workers at a Kellogg’s plant in Lancaster, Pennsylvania. Photo by Justin Harrison.
Union declares victory as Kellogg’s strike ends
with pay raise, moratorium on plant closures
by Jake Johnson — Common Dreams
Kellogg’s workers’ months-long strike officially came to an end Tuesday after union members voted to approve a new five-year collective bargaining agreement that includes an immediate wage increase of $1.10 per hour, a moratorium on plant closures, and a pension boost.
Anthony Shelton, international president of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM), called the new contract a “great workers’ victory” and said that “solidarity was critical” to the achievement. Employees are expected to return to work on December 27.
“Our striking members at Kellogg’s ready-to-eat cereal production facilities courageously stood their ground and sacrificed so much in order to achieve a fair contract,” Shelton said in a statement Tuesday. “This agreement makes gains and does not include any concessions.”
“Our entire union commends and thanks Kellogg’s members,” he continued. “From picket line to picket line, Kellogg’s union members stood strong and undeterred in this fight, inspiring generations of workers across the globe, who were energized by their tremendous show of bravery as they stood up to fight and never once backed down.”
Roughly 1,400 Kellogg’s workers in four states — Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee — had been on strike since October 5, when cereal plant employees walked off the job in an effort to improve pay, benefits, and poor working conditions, a longstanding issue that deteriorated further amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Kellogg’s workers have accused management of intentionally under-staffing the corporation’s facilities — and forcing the remaining employees to endure brutally long shifts — to save money on pay and benefits, all while handing CEO Steve Cahillane nearly $12 million a year in compensation.
“The worst is when you work a 7-to-7 and they tell you to come back at 3 am on a short turnaround,” Omaha BCTGM president Daniel Osborn, a Kellogg’s mechanic, told Rolling Stone last month. “You work 20, 30 days in a row and you don’t know where work and your life ends and begins.”
“You sign on at a place like Kellogg’s, and you know they basically own your life,” Osborn added. “You decide it is OK because you do it to support your family and give them a good life. But it has to be a relationship where you’re valued, and the company doesn’t look to squeeze out every last drop of profit at your expense.”
Osborn told HuffPost on Tuesday that with the new collective bargaining agreement, “we were able to retain everything we had before that they were trying to take away, and we got some gains in there, too.”
“We’re definitely stronger going back into that building than we were coming out,” he said.
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