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Wednesday, December 07, 2022

Kellogg’s workers win big raises after wave of strikes

OMAHA, Neb. ( Associated Press) – Hundreds of workers at a Kellogg’s plant that makes Cheez-Its have won a new contract that provides more than 15% wage increases over three years after 1,400 workers went on strike at the company’s grain plants for almost three months last fall.

The wage and benefit improvements achieved by 570 workers at the Kellogg’s plant this week are the largest ever seen by the retail, wholesale and department store unions, it said on Wednesday.

U.S. companies are struggling to fill the more than 11 million jobs across the country that represent nearly two openings for all unemployed, and workers are demanding more after plants were kept running throughout the pandemic.

Jobs hovered at near-record highs for the second consecutive month in February, the Labor Department reported this week.

“This contract is further proof of the power of a union vote and collective bargaining,” said union president Stuart Appelbaum.

Kellogg’s, based in Battle Creek, Michigan, did not immediately comment on Wednesday on the contract it offered to its workers in Kansas City, Kansas.

In addition to the strike at Kellogg’s plants in Nebraska, Michigan, Pennsylvania and Tennessee last fall, workers also walked out of a Frito-Lay plant in Topeka, Kansas, and at five Nabisco plants nationwide last year. And meat packaging workers have received significant increases when it comes to contracts with plants across the country.

Trade unions in other industries, including one representing more than 10,000 John Deere workers, also went on strike last year. The Deere workers receive 10% increases and improved benefits after stopping for month.

Workers also voted to unite unions at more than half a dozen Starbucks stores across the country and unions are trying to organize at about 140 other stores nationwide. And Amazon is trying to ward off unions at two of its warehouses in New York and Alabama where ballots are now counted.

Experts say the ongoing labor shortages have given unions more leverage than they have had in decades during contract talks.

A spokesman for the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, which represents the Kellogg’s grain factory workers, said strikes and others across the industry over the past year had helped it make significant profits for workers at other companies.

The Cheez-It workers will receive 6% increases in the first year of their new contract, 5% increases the following year and 4.5% increases and a $ 500 bonus in the third year. The workers will also see improved health and pension benefits with no increase in their health insurance premiums. And new appointments will move faster to higher pay rates.

“These wage increases will help us better provide for our families and improve the quality of our lives,” says Larry Smith, who leads the local union at the Kellogg’s plant.

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