After nearly three months of striking, the employees of the Kellogg Company ratified a tentative agreement on Tuesday for a master contract that “covers approximately 1,400 union-represented employees, all of whom are welcome back to work,” per the official statement from the cereal company.

The new, five-year contract with the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) International Union and locals “furthers our employees' leading wages and benefits, with immediate, across the board wage increases and enhanced benefits for all,” according to the official statement from Kellogg’s. “It also provides an accelerated, defined path to legacy wages and benefits for transitional employees, among other items.” 

Other highlights from the contract include a clear path to regular full-time employment; a plant-closing moratorium guaranteeing no plant shutdowns through October 2026; as well as a significant increase in the pension multiplier. Kellogg’s employees are set to return to work on Dec. 27.

"I'm feeling a lot of relief, a lot of mixed emotions but relief and pride is one of the things I'm feeling the most today." said Dan Osborn, President of BCTGM Local 50G to KETV in Omaha. "This was never about a dollar amount for us legacy employees. It was about trying to get everybody more equal.”

Osborn told KETV that the five-year agreement calls for about 15 newer employees to be moved to full time every year at the Omaha plant. In addition, the agreement includes raises and cost of living increases for all union workers, as well as an hourly wage increase for new employees – $19.92 to $24.11 an hour.

"I'm glad I get to go back to work," Lorianne Tartaglione, an employee who has worked at the Omaha plant for 16 years, told KETV Omaha.

While on strike, Tartaglione, 60, had to pick up two part-time jobs, but told KETV that the sacrifice will pay off for her co-workers and their future. "I'm one of the cereal coaters and I enjoy doing my job here, but I guess we were out here for the newer employees coming into the plant," Tartaglione said.

Work at all four of the Kellogg Company's U.S. cereal plants stopped abruptly on Oct. 5 as roughly 1,400 workers went on strike after talks on a new agreement reached an impasse. The labor union and the Battle Creek-based food manufacturing company were disputing “an assortment of pay and benefit issues such as the loss of premium health care, holiday and vacation pay and reduced retirement benefits,” NPR reported. The strike included plants in Omaha, Nebraska; Battle Creek, Michigan; Lancaster, Pennsylvania; and Memphis, Tennessee.

According to the union, Kellogg threatened to send jobs to Mexico, but the company denied that claim in an update on Oct. 12. The company used salaried employees and outside workers to keep the plants operating during the strike, citing “an obligation to our customers and consumers to continue to provide the cereals that they know and love.”

While Kellogg’s framed the decision as a response to ongoing shortages and supply chain issues created by the pandemic, their decision to undermine a union strike incited a call to boycott the cereal manufacturer on social media.

Following the rejected proposal and Kellogg’s statement in early December, calls to boycott Kellogg’s products accompanied infographics listing the many brands the company owns.

Users insisted that, rather than buying Kellogg products, they would instead learn to make their own Froot Loops, or that they would buy (or continue to buy) knockoff cereal brands. Reddit users also started a movement to flood Kellogg Co. job boards with fake applications in solidarity with striking employees.

President Joe Biden even chimed in, stating that he was “deeply troubled by reports of Kellogg’s plans to permanently replace striking workers.”

In an official statement, the president urged “employers 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.”

In early December, The Kellogg Company announced that a majority of its American workers voted against a proposed five-year contract, and that the company had “no choice but to hire permanent replacement employees.” The rejected contract offer would have included a 3% wage increase for legacy employees, as well as increases for recent hires.

The new contract, which the union voted on Monday to accept, includes no permanent two-tier system, in which lower-tier workers make less than longer-tenured workers; increasing leading pay; improved no-cost healthcare; and retirement benefits for Kellogg’s employees.

"This agreement makes gains and does not include any concessions," said Anthony Shelton, president of the BCTGM International Union.

Kellogg's employees aren't the first food workers to strike during the pandemic. Workers at Nabisco plants in five states went on strike in August after learning that Nabisco's parent company, Mondelez International, planned to move some work to Mexico. That strike ended a month later when workers ratified a new contract. A Starbucks store in Buffalo, New York also became the first location out of almost 9,000 to successfully unionize this month.