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Local union president representing Kellogg's workers won't recommend tentative agreement to members

Kellogg's union workers continue to strike
Posted at 4:54 PM, Dec 02, 2021
and last updated 2021-12-02 17:40:10-05

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — After almost two months, Kellogg Company and its union workers appear to have reached a tentative agreement.

While nothing is set in stone just yet, union workers are expected to vote on it in the coming days.

It has been almost 60 days, but these union workers are in it for the long haul. Now that a tentative agreement has been reached, they could soon be back inside the plant.

"We're still out on strike, and we plan to be here until we get some something that's fair," said a Kellogg Company Material Transfer Operator Todd Manusos.

The strike is affecting a total of 1,400 workers in four states including Michigan, Pennsylvania, Nebraska and Tennessee. Those workers are all a part of the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco and Grain Millers' Union (BCTGM).

In Battle Creek, around 325 workers with the BCTGM Local 3-G chapter have been picketing for eight weeks fighting for some employees to have full benefits and a pension.

"One of our biggest issues was transitionals and making sure they could get to the fully benefited and fully pensioned. That was done. However, it could take you up to nine years in that classification. That is still not good enough time frame for someone to have to work like that and not get the healthcare and not have your pension credits count. That is just wrong," said BCTGM Local 3-G President and Business Agent Trevor Bidelman.

The tentative agreement, if approved by members, would be a new five-year labor contract. Workers on the line are already saying they're not too happy about it.

"It’s just the same garbage that we've been talking about before. It's movement in the right direction. That's the only positive I can say about it, but it’s not half the movement that we need," said Manusos.

Kellogg Company released this statement on Wednesday night when the agreement was reached:

We are pleased to announce that Kellogg Company and the union have reached a tentative agreement for a new five-year labor contract covering 1,400 employees at our U.S. cereal plants in Battle Creek, Mich., Lancaster, Penn., Memphis, Tenn. and Omaha, Neb.

The union has stated that employees will be voting the tentative agreement on Sunday, Dec 5, and we expect to know the results early in the week.

Among other things, the tentative agreement includes an accelerated, defined path to legacy wages and benefits for transitional employees, and wage increases and enhanced benefits for all.

We thank the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service for their assistance in these negotiations.

Read the highlights of the tentative agreement here.

Bidelman said he is not planning on recommending it to his members.

"We set out to do some things during this contract, and the reason we were doing these things was for a long term. Everything was for long term, and we have kind of shifted this last round to short term. We are only concerned about short term and getting back to work," said Bidelman.

Long-term — meaning job security and work-life balance. Both of those are not included in the agreement but are high priorities for many of the workers.

"We're one day longer, one day stronger, so I mean, this is just a same story, just a different chapter, and we're out here till we get something that's fair," said Manusos.

"The outcome of the vote is going to be what it’ll be, and hopefully that is going to send a message," said Bidelman.

Local union officers with the bargaining committee will present the tentative agreement to their members who will then vote on it Sunday, December 5.

Results should be known early next week.