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Union reps say new pay structure is main reason for nationwide Kellogg’s strike

New hires would make ~$13 less in entry rate than before
Published: Oct. 5, 2021 at 6:57 PM EDT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (WMC) - Thousands of Kellogg’s employees took to the street in strikes across the nation, hundreds of those employees were in Memphis.

Employees say the company’s negotiations for a renewed contract were stalled when a new two-tier pay system was developed.

“Traditionally, what we had is a progressionary rate to be able to top-out or maximize your entry-level pay, and what the company wants to propose now is to do away with that,” said Kevin Bradshaw, VP of the 252g Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers’ Union (BCTGM) chapter.

The two-tier pay system in Kellogg’s proposal would divide the workforce into two groups: Group A, which would consist of long-time “legacy employees,” and Group B, which would be new hires and transitional employees.

Before, the entry rate for all employees was $35.26, but under the new contract, new hires (Group B) would start out making $22.76.

BCTGM had been negotiating with Kellogg’s for some time on this contract, but this new pay structure was a deal-breaker.

“We are equal,” said Rob Eafen, president of the 252g BCTGM union chapter. “These people work seven days a week, side-by-side. Why would we sit back and have one group of people making x amount of dollars and the other making so much more less?”

Kellogg’s has issued the following statement on the nationwide strike:

Bradshaw agrees with the statement of “industry-leading pay and benefits,” but they could be better, especially after corporate execs gave themselves large bonuses, according to him.

“The company made $380 billion in nine months during a worldwide pandemic,” Bradshaw said. “We had loved ones that we lost, co-workers that we lost to COVID-19. We’re not asking them to pay more than they can afford. They just don’t want to pay it because they don’t want to pay it.

Bradshaw, a 20-year Kellogg’s employee, said he sees some similarities in this strike and the strike in 2013, but he and Eafen agree that having the other three plants standing with them is vindication for what they’re fighting for.

“We’re standing together,” Eafen said. “All four of us have decided to send a message to Kellogg’s. ‘Share the wealth.’”

The other three plants are in Omaha, Nebraska, Lancaster, Pennsylvania, and Battle Creek, Michigan.

Each divide cereal production duties. Memphis is responsible for 85 percent of the Corn Flakes, Frosted Flakes, and Rice Krispies produced in the U.S. according to employees.

Employees at the Memphis plant said they love their jobs at Kellogg’s and would hate to see a supply chain disruption because of this strike, but they’re putting the needs of themselves and future Kellogg’s workers first.

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