Administration

Biden sharply criticizes Kellogg’s plan to replace striking workers

President Biden on Friday said he was “deeply troubled” by Kellogg’s plan to permanently replace striking workers with new employees after workers rejected a new contract earlier this week. 

Biden, who has described himself as “the most pro-union president,” issued a statement Friday afternoon describing the company’s plan to replace workers as an “existential attack” on the union. 

“Collective bargaining is an essential tool to protect the rights of workers that should be free from threats and intimidation from employers,” Biden said. “Permanently replacing striking workers is an existential attack on the union and its members’ jobs and livelihoods. I have long opposed permanent striker replacements and I strongly support legislation that would ban that practice.”

Biden urged companies and unions to “commit fully to the challenging task of working out their differences at the bargaining table in a manner that fairly advances both parties’ interests.” 

Kellogg announced Tuesday that it planned to permanently replace 1,400 employees at cereal plants in Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Tennessee after they rejected an agreement for a five-year contract. 

Kellogg North America President Chris Hood said in a statement that the company had “no choice” but to do so, citing a “prolonged work stoppage.” 

“While certainly not the result we had hoped for, we must take the necessary steps to ensure business continuity,” Hood added. “We have an obligation to our customers and consumers to continue to provide the cereals that they know and love.”

The workers are represented by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers’ International Union.

It’s not clear whether Biden’s statement will have an impact on the company’s decision, but it was nevertheless a notable move by the White House to wade into the fight surrounding the employees’ strike. 

Biden has long cast himself as a champion of unions, often referencing them as the backbone of the middle class during speeches.

“There’s a lot of good and decent people in the financial industry, but they didn’t build the middle class,” Biden said in prepared remarks about the infrastructure law in Kansas City this past week. “Unions built the middle class.”

Back in March, Biden seemed to offer support for a push for Amazon workers to unionize without explicitly naming the company itself in a video released by the White House.

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