The Kellogg Co. is telling its 1,400 cereal-making workers that they can continue working while in the midst of a strike and won't lose out on any benefits.
"We want to ensure all employees that you have a right to work during a strike, and this right is protected by federal and state laws — regardless of what you might be hearing from others," Kellogg said.
Kellogg issued the statement Saturday saying that there have been "a significant number of questions" on whether striking employees to return to work during the strike. The questions came flooding in as the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) rejected Kellogg's "Last Best Final Offer" last week.
The strike covers 1,400 BCTGM Kellogg’s members at four plants that make all the company’s well-known brands of cereal, including Fruit Loops and Frosted Flakes. The plants are in Battle Creek; Omaha; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and Memphis, Tennessee.
The company listed the answers to many of the questions they have been getting such as "Can I choose to return to work?" and "If I decide to return to work, will it affect my wages, benefits, or seniority rights?"
Kellogg ensured workers that if they return to work, their wages and benefits as well as their "seniority rights" will be protected.
"Kellogg will continue to apply the terms and conditions in the collective bargaining agreement unless those terms and conditions change by agreement with the union or following an impasse in negotiations," the company said.
Kellogg also noted that employees will not be "terminated for exercising their legal right to work during a strike."
Kellogg and BCTGM returned to the bargaining table last week to resume contract negotiations. However, the two parties failed to come to an agreement after the now month-long strike.
"Kellogg’s continues to insist on takeaways. 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 wrote in a statement. "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."
The union and the Battle Creek, Michigan–based company have been at an impasse at the bargaining table for more than a year, said Daniel Osborn, president of the local union in Omaha. The dispute involves an assortment of pay and benefits issues such as the holiday and vacation pay, loss of premium health care and reduced retirement benefits.
Meanwhile, Kellogg is arguing that the union rejected its final offer before even putting it before employees.
"We asked the union to allow our employees to vote the offer," said Kellogg Co. CEO, Steve Cahillane. "The union immediately rejected it and told us they would not put it before employees for a vote. We implore our cereal employees to demand their union put forth the offer for a vote."
Cahillane claimed that the union "continues to insist on proposals that are unsustainable and unrealistic" and that "they’ve proposed adding costs that would threaten the future success of our plants and cereal business."
However, the strike is already threatening the production of its iconic cereal brands. Last month, Kellogg said it was forced to continue "operations with other resources" to try and mitigate any supply disruptions.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.