by Pete Hegseth, Executive Producer
Kellogg workers outside the Chicago headquarters refused to return to work this morning and have halted efforts to reach a tentative agreement on a contract. The strike came less than a week after the International Brotherhood of Teamsters approved a contract that allows drivers to picket outside plants without fear of being fired.
Dan Jacobson, the Secretary Treasurer of Teamsters Local 727 told me, “We told our drivers that if they picket outside the plants during normal business hours they could be fired, but if they picket outside during the strike period they would not be fired. However, as it turns out, the management management of Kellogg is violating both the spirit and the letter of the agreement by allowing their employees to work but refusing to bargain in good faith with our drivers during the strike.”
The driver’s contract at Kellogg expires Friday. The Teamsters said they hope to strike the minimum wage rates in the contract right after Thanksgiving. The union represents 17,000 drivers that move Kellogg’s products. The drivers started walking the picket lines on Friday at 2:00 a.m. The union has 72 hours to accept the tentative agreement. Kellogg has been negotiating with Teamsters Local 727 for four years.
The union has already rejected a deal that would have saved the company $50 million a year and extended the contract by three years. The union maintains the deal isn’t fair for union members because the company’s profits increased by almost a quarter over the last year and they say that money should be reallocated to raise the minimum wage rates in the contract.
Management maintains that the current contract is fair. The latest offer came after local 727 voted 23-2 to reject a two-year contract. Today, 14 workers walked out of the union office just across the street from Kellogg’s main Chicago office.
Kellogg is the world’s leading cereal company and produces several other famous brand names including Special K, Toastmaster, Fiber One, Keebler and Cheez-It.
Crews in Washington state also are part of a strike against Kellogg, after that local’s contract expired at the end of September. The Teamsters say more than 9,000 jobs are threatened by the strike. They are reportedly being forced to work dangerous, unpredictable hours for wages so low it’s hard to live on.
The Teamsters Local 727 is seeking a $27 billion settlement in a potential deal between the company and Teamsters. Kellogg says it would be happy to settle in arbitration.