Advance Notice: Briefs

Striking Kellogg workers get letters of support from Stabenow, Peters and other Dem senators

By: - November 3, 2021 4:25 am

Striking Kellogg union workers and their supporters rally across from the Kellogg headquarters in Battle Creek, Oct. 27, 2021 | Laina G. Stebbins

It’s almost been a month since the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) went on strike against Kellogg to protest benefit cuts and the two-tier wage system under which newer employees are paid for less than their colleagues.

That includes 325 BCTGM workers in Battle Creek, who went on strike at midnight Oct. 5 as their master contract with Kellogg expired. The company has brought in replacement workers, which union. members call “scabs.” The Kellogg strike also includes plants in Lancaster, Penn., Omaha, Neb., and Memphis, Tenn., for a total of roughly 1,400 workers.

Several Democratic U.S. senators, including both in Michigan — Debbie Stabenow (D-Lansing) and Gary Peters (D-Bloomfield Twp.) — have issued recent letters in support of the BCTGM workers and urged Kellogg CEO Steve Cahillane to negotiate in good faith and give union members a fair contract.

“Michigan has been hit particularly hard by the pandemic. Kellogg’s workforce — including many frontline workers — have been an integral part of our nation’s efforts to ensure Americans can continue to access the food products and nutrition they need without interruption,” Peters wrote. “… As contract negotiations continue at Kellogg, I encourage you to work in good faith, as you have done in the past, to ensure workers are compensated with wages and benefits that reflect the true value of their hard work — and ensure the workforce can continue to serve our nation.”

Stabenow wrote that the Battle Creek union workers are “vital to the food supply chain and help ensure that people across the country have access to the food they need to feed their families. Your unionized workforce deserves wages, health care, and retirement benefits that reflect their value to your company, their communities, and the nation.”

Other senators signing on to a letter are: Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.), Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.), Edward Markey (D-Mass.), Tammy Baldwin (D-Wisc.) and Sherrod Brown (D-Ohio).

As the Advance previously reported, a number of state Democratic officials, including Attorney General Dana Nessel, have done strike support work in Battle Creek. However, several union members told the Advance at a rally last week they’ve noticed the lack of support from GOP officials both at the state and federal level.

KETV, an Omaha TV station, reported Tuesday that the union and company were back at the bargaining table.

“We remain hopeful that we will reach an agreement soon so our employees can get back to work and back to their lives,” the company said in a statement.

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Susan J. Demas

Susan J. Demas is a 21-year journalism veteran and one of the state’s foremost experts on Michigan politics, appearing on MSNBC, CNN, NPR and WKAR-TV’s “Off the Record.” In addition to serving as Editor-in-Chief, she is the Advance’s chief columnist, writing on women, LGBTQs, the state budget, the economy and more. Most recently, she served as Vice President of Farough & Associates, Michigan’s premier political communications firm. For almost five years, Susan was the Editor and Publisher of Inside Michigan Politics, the most-cited political newsletter in the state. Susan’s award-winning political analysis has run in more than 80 national, international and regional media outlets, including the Guardian U.K., NBC News, the New York Times, the Detroit News and MLive. She is the only Michigan journalist to be named to the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Reporters,” the Huffington Post’s list of “Best Political Tweeters” and the Washington Post’s list of “Best Political Bloggers.” Susan was the recipient of a prestigious Knight Foundation fellowship in nonprofits and politics. She served as Deputy Editor for MIRS News and helped launch the Michigan Truth Squad, the Center for Michigan’s fact-checking project. She started her journalism career reporting on the Iowa caucuses for The (Cedar Rapids) Gazette. Susan has hiked over 4,000 solo miles across four continents and climbed more than 70 mountains. She also enjoys dragging her husband and two teenagers along, even if no one else wants to sleep in a tent anymore.