OMAHA, Neb. –
Kellogg’s has reached a tentative agreement with its 1,400 grain mill workers that will raise wages by 3% and end a nearly two-month strike if the deal goes through.
The company said Thursday its five-year agreement with the International Union of Baker, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers also includes cost-of-living adjustments and it maintains current health benefits of the employee.
Kellogg workers, who have been on strike since October 5, will vote on the new contract on Sunday. The company said it expected the results to be announced early next week.
The new agreement covers workers at all four Kellogg’s US grain plants, located in Battle Creek, Michigan; Omaha, Nebraska; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and Memphis, Tennessee. They make all of the company’s popular cereal brands, including Frosted Flakes and Rice Krispies.
The tentative agreement also mentions a two-tier wage system that was once a sticking point for unions. The system gives newer workers less pay and fewer benefits, and it covers up to 30% of the workforce at factories. The Battle Creek-based company says the deal will allow all workers with at least four years of experience to move up to a higher legacy salary immediately, and some additional workers will increase in the coming weeks. the following year of the contract.
Union President Anthony Shelton thanked all members of the bargaining committee in a statement but he said workers “will have the final say on contracts.”
Outside Kellogg’s plant in Omaha, Eric Dwornicki said it was encouraging to see a tentative deal reached, but the details of the deal will determine whether it goes through.
“We want to get back to work, but we don’t want to be taken advantage of,” said Dwornicki, 35, who has worked at the factory for nearly 10 years.
Dan Luers, who has worked at the factory for 22 years, said the deal was at least a sign of progress after nine weeks of strikes. Luers, 32, has worked at the Omaha grain mill for 10 years.
Jerry Ellerman celebrated his 17th anniversary when he started working at the factory and his 50th birthday on the machine line in Omaha, but he said the strike would not end unless it was a good deal.
“I’m willing to stay here if it’s not fair,” Ellerman said.
The company took a tough stance on workers during the strike.
Last month, Kellogg’s went to court in Omaha to secure a regulatory order guiding worker conduct on the line because the company alleged that striking workers were blocking the entrance to its grain mill and threaten substitute workers. Union officials deny any wrongdoing.
The company has been using salaried and outside workers to keep factories running during the strike, and last week it threatened to start hiring permanent replacements for some. workers strike.
But the union has been trying to demand higher wages after employees worked long hours – more than 80 hours a week – for the past 18 months to keep up with demand during the coronavirus pandemic. And workers believe the widespread nationwide shortage of workers has given them an edge in the negotiations.
In another recent strike, more than 10,000 Deere workers received a 10% pay raise and improved benefits before returning to work last month.