OMAHA, Neb. — A milestone has been reached in the Kellogg worker strike. One week after walking out, workers in Omaha say their picket line is holding firm.
“One day longer, one day stronger," said Mark Scott, a Kellogg's employee of over five years. "So that’s what we’re going to do, no matter what it takes.”
Last week, the Kellogg's Company and the union the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) International Union failed to come to an agreement, leading to worker strikes all across the country, including here in Omaha.
Since then, workers on strike have surrounded Kellogg’s plant, operating every gate, 24 hours a day.
On day seven, they have no intention of moving until the company and the union reach a fair agreement.
One issue that continues to come up is overtime. Some workers tell us they work 80 plus hours a week.
“Some people do sign up for Sundays for double time, but mostly it’s mandatory, forced overtime," said Scott.
This is a burden not just for workers but for their families as well. Julie Mumford says standing next to her husband on the picket line is the most time she's been able to spend with him in years.
“It’s really hard on me to see how stressful it is for him where he has no time off, day after day," Mumford said.
The workers say new employees face the same issue, but for less pay and little benefits.
"When you have someone standing next to you, making less money than you, and you're doing the same work, that makes a bad situation," Scott said.
Kellogg’s denies these claims, saying the overtime is voluntary.
"In 2020, Kellogg cereal manufacturing employees worked an average of 52 to 56 hours per week; however, 90% of the time, employees volunteered for the extra hours," the company said ina press releaseon Tuesday.
They also say they offer industry-leading pay and benefits and would increase both with their proposal.
"Less senior employees have the same health insurance plan that salaried Kellogg employees have, except they pay much lower employee contributions than salaried employees, a construct that was agreed upon with the union in 2015. The current proposal not only maintains industry-leading pay and benefits but offers significant increases in wages, benefits and retirement."
In the update from Kellogg's, the company also said it is moving forward with outside help.
“Kellogg is ready, willing, and able to continue negotiations at any time. In the meantime we have a responsibility to our business, customers and consumers to run our plants despite the strike.”
Outside workers are being bused in, as union members rely on what they’ve saved over the past year.
“We don’t have insurance, and you know, so that’s pretty scary and financially scary," Scott said. "A lot of us saved up, but it’s hard.”
Still, they say they are staying vital for this generation of workers and the next.
“Kellogg’s, do the right thing," Mumford said. "The people are what makes you great. Take care of them.”
The workers asked the public not to buy Kellogg’s product at this time, and if they do buy the product, make sure the union logo is on the box.
An event supporting the union strikers are being held outside the plant on Wednesday around 4:30 p.m.
Jessika Eidson at KMTV first reported this story.