Placing Kellogg workers will not bow to lawsuit strain, labor rep says

As a strike of greater than 1,400 Kellogg staff enters its second week on the firm’s ready-to-eat cereal vegetation, a union consultant tells Meals Dive they’re sticking to their calls for regardless of the specter of a lawsuit and plans to herald salaried and contract staff to reopen the factories.

Trevor Bidelman, president of the Battle Creek, Michigan, chapter of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Employees and Grain Millers Worldwide Union, is a 17-year worker on the native Kellogg manufacturing unit. He instructed Meals Dive the strike is “actually concerning the future employee.” The proposed contract provided by Kellogg, based on the union, features a two-tiered cost plan for brand spanking new workers that will not give them the flexibility to finally obtain “full advantages” and retirement pension plans.

“When it boils proper all the way down to it, we won’t settle for a two-tiered profit system the place the trail to premium healthcare and pensions should not out there,” Bidelman mentioned.

Kellogg didn’t reply to requests for a response to Bidelman’s feedback at press time. In a press release to the Related Press final week, the cereal maker mentioned its provide was honest and would enhance the wages and advantages for workers, who it mentioned made a mean of $120,000 a 12 months in 2020.

In a earlier assertion to Meals Dive, spokesperson Kris Bahner mentioned the union’s complaints have been with out advantage as its compensation and advantages are “among the many business’s finest.”

One other key criticism by the union focuses on pressured time beyond regulation work. Employees on the Battle Creek facility commonly labored 12 to 16 hour days, seven days every week since March 2020 with the intention to meet excessive cereal demand, based on Bidelman. That is as cereal consumption elevated 11% through the pandemic as individuals had extra time for breakfast at residence.

Some staff, he added, would typically volunteer to take the 16-hour shifts in order that others wouldn’t be pressured to by Kellogg plant managers.

“Throughout this whole pandemic, we by no means stopped manufacturing one time,” Bidelman mentioned.

In the meantime, BCTGM doesn’t seem like involved by a lawsuit filed by the cereal large in opposition to the union for “improper actions” that it says intends to trigger the corporate monetary hurt. Bidelman mentioned it’s “typical” of Kellogg to make use of its authorized workforce to deal with labor disputes as an alternative of its labor negotiators.

The union has additionally alleged that Kellogg has threatened to maneuver its manufacturing traces to Mexico to avoid wasting prices. Bidelman mentioned the corporate has been shifting jobs to Mexico for the reason that mid-Nineteen Nineties, when it closed its San Leandro, California, plant. Again then, he mentioned, the corporate claimed the California plant closure would solely have an effect on cereal manufacturing for the Southwestern U.S., however over time extra jobs from throughout the nation have been despatched there.

Final week because the strike kicked into excessive gear, Kellogg additionally mentioned it was bringing in salaried employees and “third-party assets” with the intention to reopen its ready-to-eat cereal vegetation in Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. Bidelman mentioned that AFIMAC, the strike safety agency Kellogg is utilizing to herald staff, has a foul monitor file with the corporate. Throughout a 2014 worker lockout on the Memphis, Tennessee, Kellogg plant over a distinct contract dispute, the cereal large introduced in AFIMAC staff and one was prosecuted after filming himself urinating into merchandise on the meeting line. In a press release to native media on the time, Kellogg mentioned it was “outraged by this utterly unacceptable state of affairs” and that it could work with authorities to resolve the state of affairs.

In response to Bidelman, the AFIMAC non permanent staff are additionally not as adept at dealing with manufacturing unit tools, which he mentioned will inevitably result in extra provide chain disruption. Final month, Kellogg introduced it was investing $45 million in provide chain restructuring over the following two years, an space that North America President Chris Hood mentioned was inflicting important issues for the corporate through the pandemic.

“I don’t suppose [Kellogg] goes to assist the provision chain in any respect — the truth is, I feel they’re going to hurt all of us,” Bidelman mentioned. “Once we get again in, it’s going to take us in all probability fairly some time to restore the issues that they break.” 

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