On October 5, 1,400 Kellogg’s workers in cereal plants went on strike in Battle Creek, Michigan; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; Omaha, Nebraska and Memphis, Tennessee. This is the first Kellogg’s cereal workers strike since 1972. It was called by the union (BCTGM Local 3G) after their 5-year contract expired and negotiations with the company reached an impasse.
Workers are fighting against cuts to wages and benefits, especially to new workers (30% of the workforce) who will be prevented from ever reaching the full benefits status. In other words, the company is trying to implement a “two-tier” benefits system, which is a classic capitalist tactic to divide workers against each other and cut labor costs.
In addition, the workers are fighting against Kellogg’s exploitative conditions on the job. Workers have been pushed to clock hundreds of overtime hours during the pandemic, with many workers taking on 16 hour shifts and even working seven days a week. In addition, the Kellogg’s bosses threatened to move production to Mexico, a common threat that capitalists employ to subdue workers to their exploitative job conditions.
So far, Kellogg’s refuses to negotiate with the union, and will not even entertain the union’s proposal. The corporation instead has embarked on a strikebreaking campaign, repeating the usual lies that we hear in such campaigns. They exaggerate the salary of the employees, and disregard the actual demands of the strikers (preventing the two-tier salary scheme, better working conditions, etc.). They also evoke the hypocritical language of “responsibility” to continue production. But what this means is just responsibility to keep their profits coming! To accomplish this, Kellogg’s has been hiring scabs (strike breakers) to replace the striking workers and weaken the strike. But the Kellogg’s workers are holding strong in their second week on the picket lines.