With no deal reached after 19 negotiation sessions in 2021 with the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union for a new five-year contract for members at Kellogg’s Battle Creek, Mich., Omaha, Neb., Lancaster, Pa., and Memphis, Tenn., cereal plants, Kellogg leadership appears to have reached its limit.
“The prolonged work stoppage has left us no choice but to continue executing the next phase of our contingency plan, including hiring replacement employees in positions vacated by striking workers,” Kellogg North America President Chris Hood said in a statement yesterday.
He stressed that while this is “certainly not the result we hoped for, we must take the necessary steps to ensure business continuity” and meet customer and consumer demand for the company’s cereals, which include Rice Krispies, Frosted Flakes, Special K, Mini-Wheats, Kashi and others.
Kellogg already has hired some temporary workers to fill strikers’ vacancies and shipped cereal from overseas into the US to alleviate potential shortages and meet demand during negotiations.
The cereal-maker’s move to hire permanent replacements does not come as a surprise, as it indicated it would do so last week when it proposed its most recent offer, which included wage increases across the board, enhanced benefits and a path forward for transitional employees to access legacy wages.
The offer was the first that BCTGM brought to members for a vote, which the union said was “overwhelmingly” rejected on Dec. 5.
“The members have spoken. The strike continues. The International Union will continue to provide full support of our striking Kellogg’s members,” BCTGM said in a comment.
In the face of Kellogg’s threat to hire replacement workers, BCTGM added that it is “grateful for the outpouring of fraternal support we received from across the labor movement for our striking members at Kellogg’s.”
It added: “Solidarity is critical to this fight.”
Kellogg spokesperson Kris Bahner told Reuters that there is “strong” interest in the permanent replacement roles at all four of the plants, and new hires should start “very soon.”