BATTLE CREEK, MICH. — Fourteen hundred members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) have gone on strike at four Kellogg Co. locations that produce ready-to-eat cereal: Battle Creek; Omaha, Neb.; Lancaster, Pa.; and Memphis, Tenn.
“For more than a year throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, Kellogg workers around the country have been working long, hard hours, day in and day out, to produce Kellogg ready-to-eat cereals for American families,” said Anthony Shelton, president of the BCTGM, on Oct. 5. “Kellogg’s response to these loyal, hardworking employees has been to demand these workers give up quality health care, retirement benefits, and holiday and vacation pay. 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.”
A four-year contract offered to the BCTGM includes annual wage increases of 3% in the first year of the contract and 2% each year for the remaining three years; no change to employees’ current health care plans; enhanced retirement benefits for current transitional employees; and an increased pension multiplier for employees with pensions, according to Battle Creek-based Kellogg.
“We are disappointed by the union’s decision to strike,” said Kris Bahner, spokesperson for Kellogg. “Kellogg provides compensation and benefits for our US RTEC employees that are among the industry’s best. Our offer includes increases to pay and benefits for our employees while helping us meet the challenges of the changing cereal business. The majority of employees working under this master contract enjoy a CPG (consumer packaged goods) industry-leading level of pay and benefits, which include above-market wages and pension or 401(k). The average 2020 earnings for the majority of RTEC employees was $120,000.
“Most employees under this contract have unparalleled, no-cost comprehensive health insurance while less senior employees have the same health insurance as our salaried employees, but with much lower employee contributions. Our proposals not only maintain these industry-leading level of pay and benefits, but offer significant increases in wages, benefits and retirement.”
The union members at the four locations produce RTE cereal under brands such as Rice Krispies, Raisin Bran, Froot Loops, Corn Flakes and Frosted Flakes. Kellogg’s stock price on the New York Stock Exchange closed at $64.02 per share on Oct. 5, which was down from $64.53 on Oct. 4. At mid-day on Oct. 6, the price was $63.50 per share.
Earlier this year, BCTGM members went on strike at five Nabisco facilities. The strike began in Portland, Ore., on Aug. 10. The BCTGM and Mondelez International, Inc., Chicago, which owns Nabisco, settled the strike on Sept. 14.