11-Week Strike at Kellogg's Cereal Plants Ends as Union Workers Approve Latest Offer

Strikes at four Kellogg's cereal plants ended Tuesday after workers ratified a labor contract that would provide raises and increased benefits to all workers.

The workers will receive an additional $1.10 in their hourly wages as well as cost-of-living adjustments, benefits for transitional employees and a clearer way for employees to get top-tier wages in the company's two-tiered system.

These changes will apply to 1,400 workers in Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Tennessee represented by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM), who had been striking since October 5.

According to the Kellogg Company, the changes are immediate and the employees will return to work on Monday. The BCTGM union said the contract was a victory for the employees.

"This agreement makes gains and does not include any concessions," BCTGM union President Anthony Shelton said in a statement.

The workers said they deserved raises after working through the COVID-19 pandemic. As they were striking, Kellogg's tried to keep the cereal plants operating with outside workers.

The company threatened to permanently replace the striking workers, which received backlash from many people online, including President Joe Biden, who said the move could compromise the collective bargaining process.

Kellogg's, strike, Michigan
Kellogg's employees from four states who had been striking since October will return to work Monday after approving a new labor contract. Above, Kellogg's cereal plant workers demonstrate in front of a plant on October 7 in Battle Creek, Michigan. Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images

"We are pleased that we have reached an agreement that brings our cereal employees back to work," Kellogg's CEO Steve Cahillane said in a statement.

Earlier this month, an overwhelming majority of workers voted down a five-year offer that would have provided 3% raises and cost-of-living adjustments in coming years to most, but not all of the workers.

Workers have been on strike at plants in Battle Creek, Michigan; Omaha, Nebraska; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and Memphis, Tennessee. They make all of the company's well-known brands of cereal, including Apple Jacks and Frosted Flakes.

Kellogg's said most workers at its cereal plants earned an average of $120,000 last year, though union members have said they work more than 80 hours a week to earn that, and those wages are only available to longtime workers. Under the two-tiered pay system the company uses, newer workers are paid less and receive fewer benefits.

That pay system has been a sticking point during the negotiations, and Kellogg's offer didn't change on that part of the contract. The company has said it will allow all workers with at least four years of experience to move up to the higher legacy pay level as part of this contract. Union officials previously said that plan wouldn't let other workers move up quickly enough. The company has also proposed eliminating the current 30% cap on the number of workers at each plant who receive the lower wages.

The workers remained unified during the strike amid worker shortages across the country, which may have given them more leverage in negotiations.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Kellogg's, strike, Nebraska
Kellogg's workers' new contract will provide them with a raise and increased benefits. Above, Rodney Conyers Sr. holds a sign outside a Kellogg's plant on I Street in Omaha, Nebraska, on Tuesday, December 7. Lily Smith/Omaha World-Herald via AP