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‘We were fighting for our future:’ Union workers unhappy with new deal with Kellogg’s

Posted at 6:50 PM, Dec 21, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-21 19:04:41-05

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — One of the things Mike Cramutolo said he’s going to miss most about striking is the solidarity and camaraderie among his Kellogg’s co-workers.

“I’ve gotten to know every single one. I’ve worked with more on strike than I did inside the plant,” Cramutolo said during an interview with FOX 17 on Tuesday  afternoon. “I know them more. I know them better. I appreciate that time.”

For 77 days, he stood in front of the plant on Porter Street with dozens of other Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers union workers fighting for a better deal from Kellogg’s.

Tuesday, the two sides reached an agreement. However, he wasn’t happy about it.

“It’s hard to put into words. I’m sad that we have to go back the way we do,” Cramutolo said. “We wanted more for everybody that’s coming through like I said and I’m just a little disheartened.”

The new five-year deal he said gives workers a wage increase and better benefits, including vision. But what they wanted was a clear path for transitional workers to become full-time employees.

“Our biggest issue was getting back to having some kind of exact time frame in which you would progress into being a regular full-time employee,” said BCTGM union president Trevor Bidelman during a phone interview  with FOX 17 on Tuesday. “None of the mathematical equations. None of the ‘it could be a big wide range you know from 3-9 years that you can get hired in.’ It’s just, that’s not right to do to people.”

The agreement was reached a few days after Vermont Senator and labor activist Bernie Sanders rallied with the workers in McCamly Plaza in downtown Battle Creek.

Bidelman and others applauded his efforts but the deal isn’t what they wanted.

“I’m just a little disheartened,” Cramutolo said. “But I’m going back to work that means I get to pay bills now, pay for kids dance recitals and all that.”

The union workers are expected to resume working on Monday. Even though the strike is over, he’s going to miss the love that people and other unions showed them, from both Michigan and out of state.

“We fought. We were fighting for our future,” Cramutolo said. “We are going back with a contract. It’s not exactly what we wanted. We’re getting at least something out of this. And hopefully our next contract we’ll get something more.”

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