Kellogg said Tuesday that because a majority of its U.S. cereal plant workers have voted against a new five-year contract, they are forced to hire permanent replacements for employees who went on strike more than two months ago, Reuters reported.
Temporary workers have been at the company’s cereal plants in Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee since the strike began on Oct. 5. The Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) represents the employees and said in a statement Tuesday they fully support the workers.
The strike largely revolves around Kellogg’s two-tier compensation structure, which gives veteran employees higher wages and more benefits than newer hires. The new agreement offered by Kellogg would have moved all employees with four or more years at the company into the “veteran” tier, and a group of lower-tiered employees would move up each year, The New York Times reported.
Union members have said the proposed two-tier system takes power away from the union by removing the cap on the number of lower-tiered employees, Reuters reported.
It is legal for companies to permanently replace workers who are seeking economic concessions. The National Labor Relations Board specifies that “economic strikers” cannot be fired, but they can be replaced.
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