December 17, 2021 | OPINION | By Crosby Williams | Photo by Daniel de Koning
Kellogg’s produces many beloved kinds of cereal, including Frosted Flakes, Fruit Loops, and Raisin Bran. This past week, however, Kellogg’s lost my business. The company decided to replace 1,400 striking workers in four states permanently. Providing undeniable proof to the statement: cash is king.
Workers started striking on Oct. 5, 2021 at plants in Battle Creek, Mich., Lancaster, Pa., Memphis, Tenn., and Omaha, Neb. The workers are striking to fight for their future in addition to being against Kellogg’s continued pay cuts, layoffs, and threats to send jobs to Mexico. Their treatment during the COVID-19 pandemic brought all these complaints to a breaking point.
The company has been entrenched in negotiations with The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers’ International Union (BCTGM), who represent the workers on strike. Kellogg’s last offer to the union included a 3% wage increase for legacy employees (four or more years of service), wage increases for transitional employees, increased pension, and better dental and vision.
This was rejected and led Kellogg’s to issue the following statement on Dec. 7 by Chris Hood, President of Kellogg’s North America: “After 19 negotiation sessions in 2021, and still no deal reached…The prolonged work stoppage has left us no choice but to continue executing the next phase of our contingency plan including hiring replacement employees in positions vacated by striking workers.”
Hood made five million dollars in 2020. He made millions, but when his workers attempted to fight for a fair wage, he replaced them. Hood wants to keep his millions by any means possible. This year he left workers jobless and unable to buy presents for their loved ones this holiday season, putting his greed on the highest display. Hopefully, Hood’s millions will soften his landing in Dante’s Fourth Circle of Hell, the realm designed for the greedy.
It was not as though Kellogg’s was left with no choice. They realized the deal they would have to offer the strikers would be more expensive than hiring all new workers. The company made 1.76 billion dollars in 2020 on the backs of the same American workers they are replacing. Kellogg’s leadership showed themselves to be cowards. Choosing money over giving its workers fair compensation is purely shameful.
Kellogg’s is threading a legal needle. It is illegal to fire the workers on strike. They can, however, fully replace those on strike and put them in a holding position where they are unlikely to get their jobs back. Kellogg’s has already opened applications to replace those who are striking.
The public has been trolling Kellogg’s, most notably on Reddit. Reddit, an online social network, is the host of many subreddits which are smaller communities made of people who engage with all sorts of topics. The subreddit r/antiwork is a community on the site that allows for posts about not working, quitting bad jobs, supporting those who want better pay, and many other topics.
The subreddit has been in the news recently because members created a program to fill out Kellogg’s replacement application with bogus information. The goal was to make it impossible for Kellogg’s to hire replacements and they eventually crashed Kellogg’s website.
The public is rightly justified in taking measures into their own hands. Kellogg’s, a multibillion-dollar company, is replacing workers during the middle of an unprecedented pandemic which has already claimed 800,000 American lives.
The situation has thrust unions and strikes into the public spotlight. It shows clear as day that more protections are needed for workers fighting for fair compensation. Legislation is essential at the state and federal levels. Laws are the only option with enough force to end ‘cash is king’ and force companies to treat workers as humans. Companies cannot be allowed to have the benefit of the doubt to treat their employees with human decency. Legislation will not come fast enough to help these strikers.
The public must show support with the workers and boycott Kellogg’s products. Support this boycott and do not allow these actions to fade and disappear into the next news cycle.