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Kellogg restarts talks with workers as strike enters seventh week

(BATTLE CREEK, Mich.) — Negotiations are resuming on Monday between Kellogg Co. and the union representing some 1,400 cereal plant workers who have been on strike for more than six weeks.

The workers, who have been striking since Oct. 5, are being represented by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM). Talks between union leaders and Kellogg’s fizzled early in November after the two sides failed to reach an agreement and further negotiations were put on hold for weeks before Monday’s meeting.

The ongoing strike involves Kellogg’s plants across four states and comes amid a spate of work stoppages hitting the private sector in the U.S. Unique labor market conditions in the wake of the COVID-19 shock to the economy, including record-high levels of workers quitting their jobs, have been linked to new employee activism in recent weeks.

“We look forward to getting back to the table and are committed to negotiating in good faith,” Kellogg’s said in an update Friday. “We remain hopeful that we can reach an agreement soon so our employees can get back to work and back to their lives.”

The union rejected a proposal from Kellogg’s on Nov. 4, saying in a statement at the time that the company’s “last, best and final offer does not achieve what our members are asking for; a predictable pathway to fully vested, fully benefitted employment for all employees with no concessions.”

“The company came to the table insisting that there will only be an agreement if the Union accepts the company proposal exactly as it has been written,” the union’s statement added. “The company’s proposal was filled with conditions and terms as to what was acceptable to Kellogg’s. These terms and conditions are unacceptable to our members.”

After the union rejected the proposal, Kellogg said it was continuing operations at the four plants where the workers are on strike with hourly and salaried employees and “third-party resources producing food.”

“The bottom line is that our proposals address what the union has told us are their primary concerns,” Ken Hurley, Kellogg’s head of labor relations, said in a statement. “The union does not seem interested in revising its proposals or exploring creative solutions to resolve issues.”

The union and Kellogg’s did not immediately respond to ABC News’ request for further comment.

The striking workers in Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Tennessee help produce Kellogg cereals including Rice Krispies, Raisin Bran, Fruit Loops, Corn Flakes and Frosted Flakes, according to the union.

A separate strike at agricultural machinery giant John Deere ended just last week after waging on for over a month. The new agreement gave John Deere workers an $8,500 signing bonus and a 20% increase in wages over the life of the contract, among other things, in a deal some say highlights the new power workers are seizing in a post-pandemic labor market.

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