Biden ‘Deeply Troubled’ by Kellogg’s Plans to Replace Striking Workers

By Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'
December 13, 2021 Updated: December 13, 2021

President Joe Biden expressed concern about reports that the Kellogg Company is planning to permanently replace striking workers after the cereal manufacturer announced its intent to do so after union staff rejected a tentative agreement that would have ended the months-long job action.

“I am deeply troubled by reports of Kellogg’s plans to permanently replace striking workers,” Biden said in a Dec. 10 statement. “Permanently replacing striking workers is an existential attack on the union and its members’ jobs and livelihoods.

“Collective bargaining is an essential tool to protect the rights of workers that should be free from threats and intimidation from employers.”

Biden’s criticism was prompted by Kellogg’s plans to replace roughly 1,400 striking workers after the company and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers International Union failed to reach a new contract agreement.

“We have made every effort to reach a fair agreement, including making six offers to the union throughout negotiations, all of which have included wage and benefits increases for every employee. It appears the union created unrealistic expectations for our employees,” Chris Hood, president of Kellogg North America, said in a statement.

“The prolonged work stoppage has left us no choice but to hire permanent replacement employees in positions vacated by striking workers. These are great jobs and posting for permanent positions helps us find qualified people to fill them. While certainly not the result we had hoped for, we must take the necessary steps to ensure business continuity. We have an obligation to our customers and consumers to continue to provide the cereals that they know and love.”

Joining Biden in taking aim at Kellogg was Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-Vt.), who posted a video on Twitter on Dec. 12 of striking workers voicing their concerns and Sanders addressing a crowd, calling Kellogg “just another major American corporation trying to destroy the lives of working Americans,” while claiming in a caption that the company’s move to replace striking workers was motivated by greed.

The strike started because of disputes over pay, benefits, and the prospect of more jobs being moved to Mexico. Kellogg workers at four plants in Michigan, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Nebraska walked off the job on Oct. 5.

The union stated that workers “overwhelmingly voted to reject the tentative agreement” and that the strike would continue. Just days earlier, Kellogg said a tentative deal had been reached, but that workers would have to vote to approve it.

Zachary Stieber contributed to this report.

Tom Ozimek
Reporter
Tom Ozimek has a broad background in journalism, deposit insurance, marketing and communications, and adult education. The best writing advice he's ever heard is from Roy Peter Clark: 'Hit your target' and 'leave the best for last.'