Biden 'Deeply Troubled' by Reports Kellogg's May Permanently Replace 1,400 Striking Workers

President Joe Biden has said that he is "deeply troubled" by reports that Kellogg's is planning to permanently replace around 1,400 of its striking union workers.

Kellogg's workers have been on strike at four plants in Michigan, Nebraska, Oklahoma and Tennessee since October 5. After workers rejected a tentative agreement on Tuesday, the Kellogg Company issued a statement saying that the "prolonged work stoppage has left us no choice but to hire permanent replacement employees in positions vacated by striking workers."

Biden reacted to the company's plan in a statement on Friday. The president said that collective bargaining was "an essential tool to protect the rights of workers that should be free from threats and intimidation from employers," while describing the move to replace the striking Kellogg's workers as an "existential attack."

"I am deeply troubled by reports of Kellogg's plans to permanently replace striking workers from the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International during their ongoing collective bargaining negotiations," Biden said. "Permanently replacing striking workers is an existential attack on the union and its members' jobs and livelihoods."

"I have long opposed permanent striker replacements and I strongly support legislation that would ban that practice," he added. "Such action undermines the critical role collective bargaining plays in providing workers a voice and the opportunity to improve their lives while contributing fully to their employer's success."

Joe Biden Kellogg's Strike Union Workers Troubled
President Joe Biden said that he was "deeply troubled" by the "existential threat" of Kellogg's plan to permanently replace about 1,400 union workers who have been on strike since October. Biden is pictured above during a speech at the Eisenhower Executive Office Building in Washington, D.C., on December 10, 2021. Chip Somodevilla/Getty

Biden went on to tout his "unyielding support for unions," which he said "built the middle class in this country," as well as the collective bargaining process, promising to "aggressively defend both." The president has previously pledged to be "the most pro-union president you've ever seen."

The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, which represents the workers, has said that the strike will continue pending a new contract. Negotiations had largely focused on a two-tiered wage structure that gives workers hired after 2015 less pay and fewer benefits than veteran workers. The latest rejected contract offer would have placed workers who had been at the company for at least four years into the veteran worker category.

The Kellogg Company has indicated that it is not interested in another round of negotiating for a new contract, saying that "there is no further bargaining scheduled and we have no plans to meet" with the striking workers. The company argued that its "focus must continue to be on executing the next phase of our contingency plan" because "the strike will continue."

Temporary Kellogg's workers have been crossing the picket line to fill the labor shortage amid the strike. The company first indicated that it planned to replace some of those on strike permanently last month, not long after suing striking workers for allegedly intimidating their temporary replacements and blocking plant entrance in Omaha.

The process for finding permanent replacements for what the company described as "great jobs" has been quickly met with complications. A campaign recently launched by activists on Reddit aims to paralyze the recruitment process by flooding the Kellogg's online job portal with thousands of fake applications.

Newsweek reached out to the Kellogg Company for comment.