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In support of striking Kellogg’s workers, Biden says collective bargaining is ‘critical’

Kellogg's Cereal workers demonstrate in front of the plant in Battle Creek, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)
By AFSCME Staff ·

President Joe Biden said last week that collective bargaining plays a “critical role” in the workplace by “providing workers a voice and the opportunity to improve their lives while contributing fully to their employer’s success.”

He added that he intends to “aggressively defend” both labor unions and collective bargaining.

The statement released by the president on Friday came in response to Kellogg’s announcement that it would find permanent replacements for the company’s workers who went on strike in early October. The work stoppage that began Oct. 5 involves some 1,400 workers at Kellogg’s factories in Michigan, Nebraska, Pennsylvania and Tennessee. The workers belong to the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) and have been negotiating with the company over benefits and vacation time.

“I am deeply troubled by reports of Kellogg’s plans to permanently replace striking workers from the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union during their ongoing collective bargaining negotiations,” 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.”

This is at least the second time since he became president that Biden has stood up for workers who are trying to make their voices heard in the workplace. Back in March, he issued a video message in support of Amazon workers in Alabama who were voting to unionize. Although the Amazon workers voted against forming their own union, they were recently given a second chance to vote after the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) said their employer improperly interfered in the union election.

Biden’s vocal support of organized labor has made him one of the most pro-union presidents in American history. At a joint session of Congress on the eve of his 100th day in office, he said “unions built the middle class,” a phrase he repeated in his statement last week.

“Collective bargaining is an essential tool to protect the rights of workers that should be free from threats and intimidation from employers,” he said. “Unions built the middle class of this country. My unyielding support for unions includes support for collective bargaining, and I will aggressively defend both.”

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