Kellogg’s Workers on picket line in Nebraska (Source: Nebraska AFL-CIO)
By Sarah Ahmed
The Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union (BCTGM) announced on Tuesday that Kellogg’s workers had overwhelmingly voted to reject the contract which was announced last week. 1400 workers are continuing their strike which has shut down production at plants in Tennessee, Pennsylvania, Nebraska, and Michigan since early October.
The rejected contract that BCTGM negotiated with Kellogg’s maintains the two-tier system that is hated by workers. Workers told Tribune that they are continuing their fight until they see a contract that removes this system, where ‘transitional’ employees start at a pay of $19.50 per hour, and ‘legacy’ employees make $33 per hour. An Omaha worker was emphatic, saying “You cannot have two employees doing the same job making considerably differing wages and different benefit packages. I will never give a yes vote until the company eliminates the transitional program in its entirety!”
The worker noted that the recent contract would permit Kellogg’s to gradually pay workers less and less over time, since there was no cap on the hiring of ‘transitional’ employees. “This would allow the company to achieve their future goal of having all Kellogg’s employees working at lower wages and less benefits.”
At the end of November, Kellogg’s announced that they would begin hiring scabs that would permanently replace the striking workers, in an attempt to scare workers into giving up the strike. A Memphis worker told Tribune, “This is the kind of report Kellogg’s puts out to make the Union members worry and get weak.”
BCTGM went into negotiations with Kellogg’s following the announcement about replacing workers, and returned with the now–rejected contract that contained none of the workers’ key demands. Workers were stalwart and voted down the contract despite Kellogg’s threats to fire striking workers.
The Memphis worker continued, “We could not vote for this contract. It didn’t benefit us at all.”
The Omaha worker highlighted a contradiction in Kellogg’s claims that they are unable to eliminate the lowly-paid transitional tier, despite Kellogg’s CEO Steve Callihane making $11.7 million dollars in total compensation during 2020. “The cost savings would not lower the price of cereal for the consumer, it would only translate into bigger profits only to be seen by the greedy upper echelon of this company! If the company is so desperate for cost savings then let’s take a look at the millions of dollars that are paid out to the top executives at our expense.”
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