21 December 2021

The Kellogg’s Strike Has Ended

The workers voted to approve the latest offer from the processed food giant.

They got a better deal than could have been expected just a year ago.

Unionized Kellogg’s workers in four states have approved a new five-year contract, bringing a swift end to one of the longest-running strikes of 2021.

Employees in four states voted to accept a tentative agreement reached last week, according to company and union representatives. The five-year contract includes across-the-board wage increases and cost-of-living adjustments, as well as expanded health care and retirement benefits. It also provides a pathway for newer employees to reach the company’s coveted “legacy” wage and benefit status, partially addressing a concern that many workers had raised about a two-tiered workforce.

Over the course of the 11-week strike, there had been multiple entreaties from policymakers to return to the bargaining table, as well as criticism from President Biden and other prominent lawmakers after Kellogg’s said it would find permanent replacements for the 1,400 cereal plant workers in Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Tennessee who went on strike Oct. 5.

With the ratification vote, union members return to work Monday.

Anthony Shelton, president of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, lauded the strikers who “courageously stood their ground and sacrificed so much in order to achieve a fair contract.” He emphasized that the deal “does not include any concessions.”


The contract leaves in place a “two-tiered” system that gives newer employees with lower wages and slimmer benefits than legacy staff. But the company agreed to create an “accelerated” path from one tier to the next.

Michigan State Rep. Jim Haadsma (D), a labor relations and workers’ compensation lawyer who has lived in Battle Creek since 1994, called the outcome a significant victory for the labor movement.

“This shows the continued evolving muscularity of organized labor,” Haadsma said. “[Kellogg’s workers] held on and got a little bit more than what they were afforded in the contract two or three weeks ago.”

The fact that a union was able to negotiate any concessions at all from a multinational corporation could serve as a powerful signal to other unions, he said, possibly encouraging workers elsewhere to be more assertive. “It will be interesting to see what it does in terms of provoking more employees to think about the benefits that exist by relation of belonging to a union, and what will happen at other unions.”

One would hope that this presages a more muscular labor movement.

Perhaps Joe Biden could encourage this through executive orders and other administrative acts, because with the sociopaths Manchin and Sinema in the Senate, we aren't going to get any legislation.


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