BATTLE CREEK, MICH. — The Kellogg Co. on Oct. 12 responded to claims made by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) over issues such as a two-tiered workforce, overtime and health care. After contract negotiations broke down, 1,400 members of the BCTGM went on strike earlier in October at four Kellogg Co. locations that produce ready-to-eat cereal: Battle Creek; Omaha, Neb.; Lancaster, Pa.; and Memphis, Tenn.
“Our proposals have been grossly misrepresented by the union in statements to their membership and to media, and we want our employees to have all the information they need to make informed decisions for themselves and their families,” said Kris Bahner, a spokesperson for Kellogg.
Kellogg has proposed two tiers of employment in contract negotiations, according to the BCTGM, with new hires making less money, paying higher health insurance and not earning a pension. Under two-tier concessions, 30% of the Kellogg workforce would pay higher health care costs, lose access to retirement benefits and never be able to attain the same status as current full-time Kellogg employees, according to the union.
Less senior employees have the same health insurance plan that salaried Kellogg employees have, according to Kellogg, but they pay lower employee contributions than salaried employees, which was agreed upon with the union in 2015. The current proposal maintains pay and benefits and offers increases in wages, benefits and retirement, according to Kellogg.
The BCTGM claims members sometimes are forced to work seven days a week. Kellogg cereal manufacturing employees in 2020 worked an average of 52 to 56 hours per week, and 90% of the time employees volunteered for the overtime hours, according to Battle Creek-based Kellogg. The company proposed adding a fourth crew to allow for more time off, but the union rejected any proposals that might change current work schedules, according to Kellogg.
Kellogg also is not asking employees to give up health care, retirement benefits, and holiday and vacation pay, and it has not threatened to move jobs to Mexico if the union does not agree to contract proposals.
Kellogg’s stock price on the Nasdaq closed at $62.36 per share on Oct. 12, which compared to a close of $64.02 on Oct. 5.