Kellogg said on Tuesday a majority of its U.S. cereal plant workers have voted against a new five-year contract, forcing it to hire permanent replacements as employees extend a strike that started more than two months ago.Temporary replacements have already been working at the company’s cereal plants in Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee, where 1,400 union members went on strike on Oct. 5 as their contracts expired and talked overpayment and benefits stalled.
Kellogg spokesperson Kris Bahner said that the Interest in the replacement roles has been strong at all four plants, as expected. The company expects some new hires to start with the company very soon. Kellogg also said there was no further bargaining scheduled, and it had no plans to meet with the union.
The company said “unrealistic expectations” created by the union meant none of its six offers, including the latest one that was put to the vote, which proposed wage increases and allowed all transitional employees with four or more years of service to move to legacy positions, came to fruition. Jeffrey Jens, the union member, said that the company had made a clear path, but it is too long and not a fair decision for many employees.
Union members have said the proposed two-tier system, in which transitional employees get lesser pay and benefits than longer-tenured workers, would take power away from the union by removing the cap on the number of lower-tier employees.Several politicians, including Bernie Sanders and Elizabeth Warren, have backed the union, while many customers have said they are boycotting Kellogg products. Kellogg is among several U.S. firms, including Deere, that have faced worker strikes in recent months as the labor market tightens.