BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Around 1 a.m. Tuesday, while most of us were hours away from our morning bowl of cereal, the workers who make that breakfast walked out of the factory.
Members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) in Battle Creek, along with workers in Omaha, NE; Memphis, TN; and Lancaster PA have gone on strike.
"What we’re asking for is to get rid of a two-tier system that we currently have," says Paul Walling, Vice President of Local 3, which represents more than 300 Kellogg's employees in Battle Creek. He says the current benefits system sets different tiers for longer-tenured employees and newer ones.
"They have no path to a pension or good healthcare, that’s what we're fighting about," He said, "trying to get those folks up to what were at currently as seasoned folks at Kellogg company."
Kellogg's employees in Battle Creek go on strike
In a statement to 13 ON YOUR SIDE, the Kellogg Company said they are willing to come to the table at any time:
Kellogg is committed to negotiating a fair and competitive contract that reflects the contributions of our employees and helps set our cereal business up for long-term success. Our current proposals not only maintain industry-leading pay and benefits for employees, but offer significant increases in wages, benefits and retirement. We remain available to talk with the union at any time and we are prepared for any outcome at contract expiration.
Walling says the disparity between the two tiers is massive, about a 70:30 split at other plants in the country, and even worse in battle Creek. "because we’ve lost so many people over the years," He said, "Our numbers are more around 90:10."
Less than a day into the strike, Walling says morale on the frontlines is high. He is unsure how long it will last, but says the community support from passersby has kept spirits up.
"It's as simple as driving by and honking," He says. "If you want to bring us water and donuts or something but just to drive by and show your support it's enough."
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