Production at Kellogg’s US cereal plants has ground to a halt as the company’s roughly 1,400 US factory workers went on a nationwide strike over pay and benefits issues as well as alleged threats from the company to move production overseas.
The Battle Creek, Michigan-based breakfast giant said it’s “implementing contingency plans” in order to keep grocery store shelves stocked with “Frosted Flakes,” “Froot Loops” and other iconic brands made by the company.
The strike includes factories in Omaha, Nebraska; Battle Creek, Michigan; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and Memphis, Tennessee, according to the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, which represents the plant workers.
“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,” Anthony Shelton, president of the union, said Tuesday evening in a statement.
Contract negotiations between the union and Kellogg’s have stalled for more than a year, Daniel Osborn, president of the local chapter of the union in Omaha, told the Associated Press.
“A lot of Americans probably don’t have too much issue with the Nike or Under Armor hats being made elsewhere or even our vehicles, but when they start manufacturing our food down where they are out of the FDA control and OSHA control, I have a huge problem with that,” Osborn said.
He added that he expects the company to try to recruit scabs, or non-union workers, this week to try to restart operations and maintain the supply of its cereals.
Kellogg’s insists that it treats its workers, fairly and its contract offer would increase wages and benefits.
“We are disappointed by the union’s decision to strike. Kellogg provides compensation and benefits for our US ready to eat cereal employees that are among the industry’s best,” Kellogg spokesperson Kris Bahner said in a statement.
Osborn, though, said the conditions Kellogg’s workers have faced during the pandemic have not been sustainable. Workers have been putting in 12-hour shifts, seven days a week to keep up production while employees were out because of the virus.
It’s not the first time food production workers have protested conditions during the pandemic.
Workers at Nabisco plants in five states went on strike in August to protest plans by its parent company, Mondelez International, to move some jobs to Mexico, among other issues.
And earlier this summer, more than 600 workers at a Frito-Lay plant in Topeka, Kansas, walked off the job, with one striking worker claiming that employees had to keep working even when someone dropped dead on the job.
With Post Wires