In 2021 and 2022, the workers at the Kellogg’s facilities in Nebraska, Michigan, Pennsylvania, Tennessee, and Kansas had to go on strike for nearly three months to get a decent contract. When the contract at the Kellogg’s Eggo Waffle facility in San Jose was due to expire in June, that recent history was all too real for the 150 Local 853 members and Business Rep Ray Torres.
“It took a lot of internal organizing and educating the membership for at least a year before the proposals even started,” said Chief Steward Eric Calderon. “We knew we had a long, hard fight ahead of us. But we also knew that the company was fearful of us taking the same position that the mid-west locals had.” Fortunately, with two strike authorizations in hand, no strike was necessary and, in May, the members ratified their best contract ever.
The four-year contract includes substantial annual wage increases, maintenance of benefits for the health and welfare for the life of the contract, and significant pension contribution increases. It also includes a slew of additional benefits, like company-supplied tools, additional sick days, a jury duty benefit, more sick leave, better bidding language, and more.
“We had a strong committee of five stewards with more than 120 years of service at the company,” Torres adds. “Not only are they experienced stewards, but they also know the ins and outs of this company. At our opening bargaining session, we learned that the management side had less than 10 years experience at the company, combined.”
Torres says that after the members rejected the company’s first offer, “we gave them one more chance to sweeten the deal with a two-hour zoom negotiating session. At the end of that session, we had a recommended offer.”