Kellogg’s workers have rejected a contract proposal providing 3% annual raises, with 1,400 workers on the firm’s 4 U.S. cereal vegetation selecting to stay on strike.
The Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Worldwide (BCTGM) Union mentioned on Tuesday that an amazing majority of workers voted down the five-year offer, which additionally would have additionally offered cost-of-living changes within the later years of the deal and preserved the workers’ present well being care advantages.
“The members have spoken. The strike continues,” union President Anthony Shelton mentioned.
The union and Kellogg’s have been caught on the bargaining desk for greater than a 12 months. With talks at an deadlock, workers have been on strike since October 5 at vegetation in Battle Creek, Michigan; Omaha, Nebraska; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and Memphis, Tennessee. The plant places make the entire firm’s well-known manufacturers of cereal, together with Apple Jacks, Frosted Flakes and Rice Krispies.
Kellogg’s mentioned it will now transfer ahead with plans to start out hiring everlasting replacements for the striking workers. The corporate has already been utilizing salaried workers and out of doors workers to maintain the vegetation working in the course of the strike.
“While certainly not the result we had hoped for, we must take the necessary steps to ensure business continuity,” mentioned Chris Hood, president of Kellogg North America. “We have an obligation to our customers and consumers to continue to provide the cereals that they know and love.”
Rutgers College professor Todd Vachon, who teaches courses about labor relations, mentioned he is unsure the corporate will have the ability to rent sufficient workers to replace those who’re out on strike within the present economic system, and Kellogg’s might have a exhausting time discovering folks prepared to cross a picket line.
“By voting ‘no,’ the workers are making a strong statement that they are not satisfied by the agreement, but they are also signaling they believe they have the leverage that’s needed to win more,” Vachon mentioned.
One sticking level within the negotiations has been the corporate’s two-tiered system of wages that offers newer workers on the vegetation much less pay and fewer advantages. As many as 30% of the workforce on the cereal vegetation have been receiving these decrease wages.
Kellogg’s mentioned the brand new contract will permit all workers with no less than 4 years of expertise to maneuver as much as the upper legacy pay stage instantly and a few further workers would transfer up within the later years of the contract.
9 years for greater pay
Dan Osborn, president of the BCTGM’s native Omaha union, mentioned the corporate’s offer would not let sufficient workers transfer as much as the upper pay stage shortly, so some newer workers might need to attend as a lot as 9 years to succeed in the upper legacy pay stage. The proposed contract would have restricted the variety of workers who may transfer up in pay every year to three% of a plant’s complete headcount.
“Ultimately, we don’t want to leave anyone behind. And we want a secure future,” Osborn mentioned.
Union members would additionally wish to see the corporate offer greater raises to its mechanics and electricians so Kellogg’s can higher compete for these workers, he mentioned.
Victor Chen, a sociologist at Virginia Commonwealth College who research labor, mentioned he understands why the union is taking a stand towards the two-tiered wage system as a result of it is a divisive subject inside its ranks.
“A union depends on the solidarity of its members,” Chen mentioned. “When you have two-tiered systems — which have become popular in corporate America — you’re weakening that solidarity. It turns workers against each other.”
At instances in the course of the strike, the disagreements between the corporate and the union turned bitter.
Kellogg’s went to court docket in Omaha in November to safe an order that set pointers for a way workers behaved on the picket line as a result of the corporate mentioned striking workers had been blocking the plant’s entrances and intimidating alternative workers. Union officers denied any improper conduct in the course of the strike and mentioned police by no means cited workers for inflicting issues.
Strikers emboldened by labor shortages
However the workers have been holding out for greater wages as a result of they imagine the continuing employee shortages throughout the nation give them a bonus in the course of the negotiations.
Tens of millions of People have been sluggish to return to the job market, with about 4.7 million fewer folks within the labor power than previous to the pandemic. That despatched wages greater in November as employers tried to lure workers, with common hourly earnings rising by 4.8% from a 12 months earlier.
Workers on the cereal vegetation have mentioned they believed they deserve vital raises as a result of they routinely work greater than 80 hours per week, they usually saved the vegetation operating all through the coronavirus pandemic. Breakfast cereal gross sales have spiked in the course of the pandemic, significantly these of older manufacturers that carry nostalgic worth.
Usually, U.S. company earnings have by no means been fatter — or accounted for an even bigger portion of financial development, current figures launched by the U.S. Bureau of Financial Evaluation present. All that worthwhile padding might depart room for some corporations to deal with each inflation and wage calls for with out climbing costs, economists at Oxford Economics mentioned in a current be aware.
Earlier this 12 months, about 600 meals workers additionally went on strike at a Frito-Lay plant in Topeka, Kansas, and 1,000 others walked off the job at 5 Nabisco vegetation throughout the U.S. At meatpacking vegetation throughout the nation labor unions have been efficiently negotiating vital raises for workers.
In one other current strike, over 10,000 Deere workers secured 10% raises and improved advantages however these positive factors got here after the workers remained on strike for a month and rejected two gives from the corporate. The offer that Kellogg’s workers rejected was the primary one they’ve voted on because the strike started.