1,400 Kellogg Workers on Strike; Cereal Company Threatened Move to Mexico, Union Says

About 1,400 workers at Kellogg Company's U.S. cereal plants went on strike Tuesday, forcing production at the factories to come to a stop, the Associated Press reported. Negotiations between the workers' union and the cereal company have been ongoing for more than a year regarding a host of employment issues, including a threat from Kellogg to move some jobs to Mexico, according to the union.

Daniel Osborn, president of a local union in Omaha, Nebraska, said that a range of pay and benefit issues for workers, like losing premium health care, holiday pay and some of their vacation time, were among the other problems brought to the negotiation table with the Michigan-based company. The prospect of moving jobs to Mexico, where production and employee labor wouldn't be overseen by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration or Occupational Safety and Health Administration, was also a "huge" concern to Osborn.

"A lot of Americans probably don't have too much issue with the Nike or Under Armor hats being made elsewhere or even our vehicles, but when they start manufacturing our food down where they are out of the FDA's control and OSHA's control, I have a huge problem with that," Osborn said.

Workers at the company's plants in Omaha and Battle Creek, Michigan; Lancaster, Pennsylvania and Memphis, Tennessee, all participated in the strike. However, it was not immediately apparent how much of an effect the loss in labor would affect the production or supply in the company's range of products and brands, the AP reported.

For more reporting from the Associated Press, see below.

Kellogg Workers Go On Strike
About 1,400 workers at Kellogg Company’s U.S. cereal plants went on strike Tuesday, forcing production at the centers to come to a stop. A "Tony the Tiger" statue, Kellogg's mascot for Frosted Flakes, greets visitors to the Battle Creek, Michigan, plant. James L. Amos/Corbis via Getty Images

The company insists that its offer is fair and would increase wages and benefits for its employees that it said made an average of $120,000 a year last year.

"We are disappointed by the union's decision to strike. Kellogg provides compensation and benefits for our U.S. ready to eat cereal employees that are among the industry's best," Kellogg spokesperson Kris Bahner said in a statement.

Osborn said he expects the company to try to bring non-union workers into the plants at some point this week to try to resume operations and maintain the supply of its products.

The plants have all continued to operate throughout the coronavirus pandemic, but Osborn said that for much of that time workers were putting in 12-hour shifts, seven days a week to keep up production while so many people were out because of the virus.

"The level we were working at is unsustainable," Osborn said.

Kellogg Cereal
It was not immediately clear how much the production and supply of Kellogg products would be affected as about 1,400 of the company's U.S. plant workers went on strike Tuesday. Boxes of Kellogg's cereals including Froot Loops, Cocoa Krispies and Raisin Bran are seen at a store in Arlington, Virginia, December 1, 2016. Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images