- Workers at Kellogg’s Zanesville, Ohio, factory, which produces MorningStar Farms plant-based products, are seeking to unionize, according to a petition to the National Labor Relations Board filed by The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco, and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM).
- Employees at the plant are “overworked” and are fighting mandatory overtime and high costs for insurance, BCTGM representative Lisa Gregory told Bloomberg. Gregory said there are nearly 300 workers at the plant, and that BCTGM has “over half the plant signed up” to vote for the union. BCTGM will hold a hearing on Aug. 9 to decide whether an election should be held by mail or in person.
- The maker of Corn Flakes and Eggo waffles continues to face labor issues as it seeks to split into three companies, which would include a dedicated company for plant-based foods.
The union push from some Kellogg employees is happening against a backdrop of transformation at the food giant.
In June, Kellogg announced it would split into three businesses. A new plant-based company, tentatively titled Plant Co., will be anchored by the MorningStar Farms brand. Its net sales are about $340 million, Kellogg said in a recent press release, and the company will be focused on expanding its reach into the alternative meat space both in the U.S. and internationally. The company would also spin off its North American cereal operation, while placing its snacks, international cereal, noodles and North American frozen breakfast brands in a separate business.
In a statement when the split was first announced, Kellogg CEO Steve Cahillane said each business has “significant standalone potential, and an enhanced focus will enable them to better direct their resources toward their distinct strategic priorities.”
In a June interview, Cahillane told Food Dive the company may also sell the plant-based unit, calling it a “prized asset.” Labor issues could potentially complicate any of these efforts.
In an email statement, Kellogg spokesperson Kris Bahner said the company “respects employees’ right to choose on this important issue that impacts their livelihoods. That said, we believe the best way for employees to continue shaping their future is to talk directly with leadership about what matters to them — like they do today.”
BCTGM already represents Kellogg workers at four of its factories that produce ready-to-eat cereal. Last year, the union helped coordinate an 11-week strike at plants in Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. The strike ended last December when unionized workers agreed to a new contract that provided a path to full benefits for lower-tier workers and pension raises. The strikes, as well as fires at some of its cereal factories last year, caused a 10% year-over-year decline in net sales of Kellogg’s cereal in first-quarter 2022.