1,400 workers members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers International Union went on strict October 5. Two weeks ago the group that includes plant workers in Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee turned down a proposal from Kellogg and decided to continue the strike.
Now that terms have been agreed upon, staff are expected to return to work on December 27.
Initially, Kellogg threatened to fire its striking employees but quickly found that they could not hire enough replacements. As a result of this u-turn, Kellogg spokesperson Kris Bahne told CNN: “No striking workers have been replaced, full-time employees hired during the strike will fill ongoing openings at our cereal plants, as needed.”
Speaking about the agreement, union president Anthony Shelton said: “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. This agreement makes gains and does not include any concessions.”
The new agreement
Workers have agreed to a five-year contract with the company that prohibits plant closure while the contract is valid. Additionally, there is a cost-of-living wage increase that intends to equip staff with funds amidst rising prices.
The new deal will also benefit recent employees as they were typically offered a less attractive pay scale and benefit offering. These more recent employees will now have a simpler path to ‘legacy’ status. All employees with four or more years of service will now be awarded ‘legacy’ status while all other workers will reach this status after a year of work from this point forward.
On the back of this agreement, Kellogg CEO Steve Cahillane commented: “We are pleased that we have reached an agreement that brings our cereal employees back to work. We look forward to their return and continuing to produce our beloved cereal brands for our customers and consumers.”
The plant workers at Kellogg company are not alone in taking action to better their employment agreement. In fact, there have been 241 US strikes in the first 11 months of 2021, and almost a third of them occurred in October and November.
The increase in strikes is likely connected to the ‘Great Resignation‘ which has seen millions leave the workforce in the US. This has meant that workers have greater leverage when negotiating terms because they cannot be replaced as easily. The situation is illustrated by the fact that there are two unemployed US citizens for every three jobs that are available.
Of course, employers don’t have to wait 11 weeks into a strike to reconsider the benefits they give workers. Companies like Walmart, Amazon, and Target have all changed their offering to help retain staff as millions leave the workforce.
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