Should You Boycott Kellogg Brands? Workers Strike Over Pensions, Health Care and More

·3 min read

A viral post on Twitter has people proposing a boycott of food conglomerate Kellogg after more than 1,400 workers who produce some of the most iconic cereals in the world went on strike last week.

Employees at plants making Rice Krispies, Raisin Bran, Froot Loops, Corn Flakes, Frosted Flakes and other breakfast cereals are the latest to strike in a series of actions by food workers. (Workers at Instacart, Nabisco and Frito-Lay all went on strike or urged boycotts earlier this year.) Tensions are heightened amid a labor shortage and supply chain troubles, and it appears both workers and consumers are taking a stand.

Union members at four separate Kellogg plants in Nebraska, Michigan, Tennessee and Pennsylvania walked out last Tuesday over stalled contract negotiations and after they say Kellogg threatened to move jobs to Mexico if workers didn’t agree to their contract proposals. At issue are concerns like ending pensions for newer workers and higher health care costs, the workers say.

The striking workers are part of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, or BCTGM. BCTGM also represents the Nabisco workers who were striking this summer over similar concerns.

“It’s like a death of 1,000 cuts,” Kerry Williams, an employee at the Lancaster, Pennsylvania, plant, told The Guardian. “We had to work through this COVID for the last two years, and they’ve just shown disrespect for the union name. They even want to remove our union logo from the cardboard cereal box.”

Workers have been putting in 12-hour days seven days a week at some points during the pandemic to keep up with demand and to cover shifts of sick workers, union representatives say. Over 200 job cuts were announced at the Michigan plant early last month. Meanwhile, the company has seen an increase in sales since the onset of the pandemic.

Headlines about the Kellogg strike inspired the viral tweet, which displays the logos of Kellogg’s brands like Cheez-It, MorningStar Farms and Pringles and encourages consumers to stand in solidarity with workers. As far as an official boycott, though, the union says that’s not something it’s involved with.

“There is not a sanctioned boycott of Kellogg cereals by the BCTGM” or the union federation AFL-CIO, BCTGM communications director Corrina A. Christensen told the Detroit Metro Times. “However, if consumers were to take it upon themselves to vow not to buy Kellogg cereals until workers get a fair contract… that is up to the consumer. 😊”

Meanwhile, Kellogg spokesperson Kris Bahner told Money the company is “disappointed by the union’s decision to strike.”

“Kellogg provides compensation and benefits for our U.S. RTEC (Ready-to-Eat Cereal) employees that are among the industry’s best,” Kellogg said in an emailed statement. “Our offer includes increases to pay and benefits for our employees while helping us meet the challenges of the changing cereal business.”

Kellogg has announced it’s bringing in staff and “third-party resources” to operate the plants in place of the striking workers, according to recent reporting.

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