Kellogg union workers ratify new five-year contract

Trace Christenson
Battle Creek Enquirer

Employees striking the Kellogg Co. have ratified a new five-year contract.

The company and the union announced the ratification of the tentative contract in statements released Tuesday morning.

"We are pleased to announce that employees have ratified the tentative agreement for a master contract at our four U.S. cereal plants," the company said in the release. "The contract covers approximately 1,400 union-represented employees, all of whom are welcome back to work.

"The new, five-year contract furthers our employees’ leading wages and benefits, with immediate, across the board wage increases and enhanced benefits for all. It also provides an accelerated, defined path to legacy wages and benefits for transitional employees, among other items."

The contact affects about 1,400 members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Local 3-G in Battle Creek and BCTWGM members at plants in Memphis, Tenn., Lancaster, Pa., and Omaha, Neb.

Kellogg employs about 325 workers at the Battle Creek Porter Street cereal plant.

The approved contact was the second tentative agreement taken to the membership for a vote. The first attempt was rejected in a Dec. 5 vote.

Kellogg workers went on strike Oct. 5 after an extension to their prior contract expired. The walkout drew national attention, including statements of support for the workers from President Joe Biden and a visit from U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders. A key point of contention was addressing concerns of "transitional" workers, newer employees who were paid less than their more senior counterparts.

“We are pleased that we have reached an agreement that brings our cereal employees back to work,” said Steve Cahillane, Chairman and CEO. “We look forward to their return and continuing to produce our beloved cereal brands for our customers and consumers.”

In their statement the company said the agreement includes:

  • Increased pay: Saying its employees at U.S. cereal plants are currently among the highest paid in the industry, the company noted average 2020 earnings for the majority of hourly employees was $120,000, nearly $36-per-hour straight time for senior "legacy" employees. The agreement includes increased pay for all people, including across the board wage increases and cost-of-living adjustments starting in Year 1 of the agreement.
  • A path to Legacy: Transitional employees have an accelerated, defined path to legacy wages and benefits as compared to the current contract. 
  • Improved no-cost health care: The company said most of its U.S. cereal plant employees pay nothing for their health care (no premiums, co-pays, or out-of-pocket costs for prescriptions). The balance of our workforce has the same health insurance as salaried employees, but at a lower cost to them. The agreement expands already health care benefits across the board.
  • Attractive retirement benefits: The company said the majority of U.S. cereal plant employees have pension benefits, which it said is "a rarity these days," while others have 401(k) plans. The agreement increases those pension benefits.
  • No takeaways: The agreement does not take away anything from employees. "In other words, we are not requesting any concessions from the union," the statement said.

In commenting on the ratification, BCTGM International President Anthony Shelton stated, “Our striking members at Kellogg’s ready-to-eat cereal production facilities courageously stood their ground and sacrificed so much in order to achieve a fair contract. This agreement makes gains and does not include any concessions.”

He cited highlights of the new five-year collective bargaining agreement as:

• No take aways or concessions by the union

• No permanent two-tier system 

• A clear path to regular full-time employment for transitional workers

• A plant closing moratorium: No plant shutdowns through October 2026

• A significant increase in the pension multiplier

• Maintenance of cost of living raises

“Our entire Union commends and thanks Kellogg’s members. From picket line to picket line, Kellogg’s union members stood strong and undeterred in this fight, inspiring generations of workers across the globe, who were energized by their tremendous show of bravery as they stood up to fight and never once backed down.

“The BCTGM is grateful to AFL-CIO President Liz Shuler for mobilizing the AFL-CIO and its affiliates in support of our striking Kellogg’s members. Once again, President Shuler has provided highly effective leadership in support of the BCTGM and our members.

“The BCTGM is grateful, as well, for the outpouring of fraternal support we received from across the labor movement for our striking members at Kellogg’s. Solidarity was critical to this great workers’ victory.”

On Friday Sanders, an independent from Vermont, spoke for 10 minutes outside the Kellogg Headquarters in Battle Creek at a rally to support striking workers.

Before the current walkout, the last nationwide strike by Kellogg Co. workers was in 1972 and lasted 21 days.

Contact Trace Christenson at 269-966-0685 or