Kellogg workers set to strike for third time

After six months of negotiations, hundreds of Kellogg employees at its Wallace Park plant in Brampton, Ontario, are set to remain on strike until the company and the union reach a new agreement.

The 100 workers, represented by Local 3410 of the International Union of Operating Engineers, voted down the company’s last offer to avert a labour strike, the union announced. At issue was health insurance.

The company had proposed a two-tiered plan to the union and its members, officials with Local 3410 told a crowd of employees at a rally outside of the plant last week. For the most part, the new plans would have meant paying more for their insurance, with no cap on premiums.

“A lot of people actually are paying the premiums for 12 months and then having to come back to the employer and have to pay up,” said Kim Hedrick, a 28-year employee and shop steward for Local 3410. “It’s extremely unreasonable.”

The company and union called the vote at the end of September, and about 300 employees participated.

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“This was not a normal strike. We were prepared to stick together and support our crew,” said Mike McCormick, Local 3410 president. “Some people were up on their feet, singing and dancing, and taking photos with everyone. This is really important to our members because it shows we’re standing up for what we believe in.”

Local 3410 members held another rally in support of the workers Tuesday morning. The local wants a guaranteed 50 percent increase in health coverage, a full-time budget for full-time workers, dental and vision coverage, child care assistance, an equipment exchange fund, 10 paid holidays and a paid vacation.

Kellogg Canada added that it is “disappointed” with the workers’ rejection of the previous proposal and are “continuing to work with them to reach an agreement that will allow them to return to work.”

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In the meantime, Kellogg employees in another Ontario plant, in Tillsonburg, are still employed. Their contract ran out on Friday, 31 August, but the company brought back 58 of them to continue working.

Kellogg workers were last on strike in 2015, when almost one-third of the company’s Ontario workforce stayed on the picket line to demand a salary increase. That year, Kellogg proposed to move from its flat salary system to a scale-based wage system, but ended up offering an 8.5 per cent increase over two years. The union refused.

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