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Labor Battle at Kellogg Plant in Memphis Drags On

New York Times (02/10/14) Steven Greenhouse

Kellogg has kept more than 225 workers locked out of its Memphis plant for more than three months, waiting for their union to agree to a new contract. Due to the lockout’s duration and the exigencies of winter, tensions are running high. Workers believe that Kellogg is trying to undercut their wages out of greed; Kellogg believes that the expensive plant pays above-market wages and must take cuts to become competitive.

Pay and benefits average $28 per hour. Kellogg has cut health insurance benefits during the lockout and continued operations with employees provided by a staffing firm. The union says Kellogg is looking to employ up to 100% of the factory’s employees as temporary or casual hires, far above the current limit of 30%. These would essentially form a tier of lower-wage employees who would earn $6 per hour less than other employees and with far less generous benefits. The union hopes that the U.S. National Labor Relations Board will declare the lockout illegal.