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Group of Nebraska state lawmakers backs Kellogg strikers

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More than 10,000 Deere & Co. workers went on strike Thursday after the United Auto Workers union said negotiators couldn't deliver a new agreement that would meet the "demands and needs" of workers.

LINCOLN — Seventeen Nebraska lawmakers sent a letter to Kellogg Co. CEO Steven Cahillane Thursday to show “unwavering solidarity” with the company’s striking workers.

The letter offered support for members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco and Grain Millers Union, which has been at impasse with the company for more than a year over a new contract. The union went on strike Oct. 5.

Issues at stake include health care, holiday pay and vacation time, as well as the company’s two-tier wage system. Under the system, new employees start at a lower wage scale than longer-term ones.

In the letter, the senators called for Kellogg to continue working in good faith with the workers, pointing to the company’s 80-year history in Omaha and the sacrifices that workers made during the pandemic to keep producing the company’s ready-to-eat cereals. They also highlighted the Legislature’s passage of a new business tax incentive program to help companies.

“We are committed to helping you continue to produce affordable, and nutritious food for the whole world from your Omaha facility, of which we are very proud,” the letter said.

Kellogg spokeswoman Kris Bahner said Wednesday that the company was “committed to achieving a fair and competitive contract that recognizes the important work of our employees and helps ensure the long-term success of our plants and the Company. We remain ready, willing and able to continue negotiations and hope we can reach an agreement soon.”

Lawmakers signing the letter, who include both Democrats and Republicans, are: State Sens. Ray Aguilar, Carol Blood, Eliot Bostar, John Cavanaugh, Machaela Cavanaugh, Jen Day, Wendy DeBoer, Matt Hansen, Robert Hilkemann, Megan Hunt, John McCollister, Mike McDonnell, Terrell McKinney, Adam Morfeld, Patty Pansing Brooks, Tony Vargas, and Lynne Walz.

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Martha Stoddard keeps legislators honest from The World-Herald's Lincoln bureau, where she covers news from the State Capitol. Follow her on Twitter @StoddardOWH. Phone: 402-670-2402

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