Since September 8, the Kellogg’s workers at four plants of the Company in America, namely Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Tennessee have been on strike. The workers have been demanding that the two-tier pay structure, which exists at the shop floor of Kellogg’s be abolished. In this system, the workers are divided into two groups, one which comprises ‘transitional employees’, who are mainly the new joinees, and the other comprises ‘legacy employees’, who are amongst the highly-tenured workers.
At Kellogg’s, both the sets of employees have a different pay structure where ‘legacy employees’ enjoy wages at higher rates among other medical benefits as compared to ‘transitional employees’. When someone from the category of a legacy employee retires or moves on, people from the ‘transitional employees’ category are elevated as ‘legacy employees’.
Earlier, Kellogg’s had put a cap on maintaining the number of transitional employees at 30 per cent but now the workers suspect that the Company is deviating from its promise.
The difference of hourly wages between a transitional employee and legacy employee is $12 per hour. Also, transitional employees have to pay more for their medical benefits as compared to legacy employees.
On November 3, after a long tussle between Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, which represents the employees’ union at Kellogg’s, the management offered its last and final offer to the union. The highlights of the latest offer are as follows:
– Doing away with the permanent two-tiered structure
– Continuing the existing pathway to legacy wages and benefits, but with significant wage increases for current and future transitional employees.
– Maintaining the Cost of Living Adjustment for legacy employees.
– Enhancing benefits for all employees
Now, however, as per the Company release, the union is not giving a chance to the employees to vote on the comprehensive offer given by the Company.
The Kellogg’s management is asking their employees to demand their union leaders that they should be given the right to vote on the offer made by the Company.
“We asked the union to allow our employees to vote on the offer,” says Steve Cahillane, chairman and CEO, Kellogg’s.
He further adds, “The union immediately rejected it and told us they would not put it before employees for a vote. We implore our Cereal employees to demand their union put forth the offer for a vote. The union continues to insist on proposals that are unsustainable and unrealistic. They’ve proposed adding costs that would threaten the future success of our plants and cereal business.”
In the meantime, Kellogg’s has a responsibility towards its business, customers and consumers to run its plants, despite the strike. The Company is continuing operations at all four plants with other resources, and hopes to reach an agreement soon. Kellogg’s remains ready and willing to consider any realistic offers from the union.