About 150 unionized workers striking outside the Kellogg’s cereal-making plant in East Hempfield Township were joined by Lt. Gov. John Fetterman on Saturday afternoon.
“Folks go to a grocery store during the pandemic and they see full shelves. These are some of the folks who made all of that possible,” Fetterman, currently running for a U.S. Senate seat, said of the workers demonstrating outside. “I think them being adequately and fairly compensated is (something everyone should care about).”
The workers were among hundreds at the State Road plant, represented by Local 374 of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers, who went on strike Tuesday after their five-year master contract expired – only the second walkout in the plant’s 45-year-old history. Picket demonstrations have taken place outside the plant since Tuesday morning.
A strike fund for the workers has raised “well over” $17,000, Fetterman said. The strikers are now aiming to raise $25,000.
Fetterman arrived outside the plant shortly before 1 p.m., remaining for a little more than an hour to speak with striking workers, asserting that they deserve better treatment and benefits.
“I’m standing in solidarity with you and it’s an honor to be here,” he said. “That’s my simple message.”
The past year and a half has been difficult for many, but “Kellogg’s has certainly not suffered during the pandemic,” Fetterman said. “They posted record earnings and have been able to be compensated for providing the critical food supply that they do, and the workers deserve a share of that.”
Local 374 President Kerry Williams told LNP|LancasterOnline on Tuesday that management’s insistence on keeping a two-tier wage system that pays new hires “approximately half” of what workers hired before 2016 earn and new hires not having a firm schedule for raises are two of the major sticking points in negotiations.
Williams did not immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday.
The strikers were among those classified as “essential workers” during the pandemic, Fetterman noted.
“These are the ones who worked triple shifts,” he said. “These are the ones who, for the entire length of this pandemic, delivered and made sure that our grocery store shelves remained stocked.”