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Kellogg's workers on strike in Battle Creek, Michigan

Kellogg's Cereal plant workers demonstrate in front of the plant on October 7, 2021 in Battle Creek, Michigan. Workers at Kellogg’s cereal plants are striking over the loss of premium health care, holiday and vacation pay, and reduced retirement benefits. (Photo: Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

'Unbreakable Solidarity': Kellogg's Workers Reject Contract That Would Leave New Employees Out of Benefits

"We're not willing to sell our souls for our future employees that are going to work side by side with us but not get the same pay or benefits."

Julia Conley

Labor advocates applauded 1,400 Kellogg's cereal plant workers for "courageously" rejecting the company's latest contract offer and demanding an end to the two-tier pay structure they say divides workers and disempowers their union.

"Removing the two-tier language in general is what we're after. That's our fight."

The contract would have classified all employees with four or more years experience at Kellogg's as "legacy" workers, while newer workers would still be classified as "transitional" employees. Legacy employees would have received a 3% pay increase in the first year and cost of living raises in subsequent years, and all employees would have gotten raises upon ratification—but veteran plant workers rejected the continuation of the two-tier structure, which would have left newer employees out of some benefits.

A veteran plant worker in Battle Creek, Michigan told More Perfect Union, a progressive media organization focused on labor rights, that the two-tier system is the union's "big sticking point"—even though legacy employees would have gotten increased pension benefits with the new contract.

"Removing the two-tier language in general is what we're after," said the employee. "That's our fight... We're not willing to sell our souls for our future employees that are going to work side by side with us but not get the same pay or benefits."

The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM), which represents the workers, said Tuesday it supported the workers' decision.

"The members have spoken," said BCTGM President Anthony Shelton in a statement.  "The strike continues. The International Union will continue to provide full support to our striking Kellogg’s members... Solidarity is critical to this fight."

More Perfect Union said the vote demonstrated "unbreakable solidarity" among the workers.

The workers voted against the contract despite Kellogg's plan to begin hiring permanent replacement employees—a strike-breaking tactic that would be outlawed by the PRO Act—and send jobs to Mexico.

"The company made $3.6 billion this year," More Perfect Union noted on Twitter. "Its CEO was given a $11 million paycheck last year."

Progressives urged supporters of workers' rights to boycott Kellogg's products and donate to strike funds to help workers and their families as the strike continues through the holiday season.

Noting that Kellogg's is struggling to produce its cereals amid the strike, despite its hiring of non-union members, More Perfect Union said, "The Kellogg’s strike is working."

"Every single worker deserves safety and dignity," tweeted Ismail Smith-Wade-El, a member of Lancaster, Pennsylvania's city council. "Solidarity forever."


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