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Vol. 78/No. 30      August 25, 2014

On the Picket Line
Memphis unionists win jobs back, Kellogg ends lockout
ATLANTA — Locked-out union workers at Kellogg Company’s cereal plant in Memphis, Tennessee, won reinstatement when a federal judge ruled July 30 that the food-processing giant had to end its nine-month lockout of members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union Local 252G.

The judge granted an injunction ordering Kellogg to end its lockout and reinstate all workers within five days. After the ruling, union members were told to call in and plan to return to work on Aug. 11.

As workers were celebrating their victory and preparing to go back into the plant, an administrative law judge ruled that the company was within its rights to lock the union members out. “Kellogg was pleased” with that ruling, said company spokeswoman Kris Charles in an Aug. 7 statement. “Given the [judge’s] decision, we must reevaluate our prior plan to bring employees back to work next week.”

A day later, however, the company reversed again and said that Local 252G members could return to work “while the company continues to mull over a ruling in its favor handed down late Thursday,” according to the Memphis Commercial-Appeal Aug. 8.

The lockout began in October 2013, after Local 252G members refused to accept Kellogg’s plan to hire temporary, part-time workers at $6 an hour less and with fewer benefits and rights than employees working under the BCTGM contract. The company has been operating the plant with replacement workers since shortly after the lockout began.

“It felt good when the judge’s ruling came down July 31,” Jeannette McGraw, 58, who has worked at the plant since 2001, told the Militant Aug. 9 by phone from Memphis. “But with the administrative law judge’s ruling, we’re not sure what will happen.”

“We’ve won the battle, but still haven’t won the war,” said Glen Mason, also by phone. He has worked at Kellogg’s Memphis plant for 38 years.

Local 252G’s determined fight has won support from working people in the Memphis area and beyond, including other unions, civil rights organizations and community groups.

From the start of the lockout until the July 30 ruling, union members staffed a round-the-clock picket line at the plant.

— Susan LaMont

SF concession workers celebrate victory after 5-year contract fight
SAN FRANCISCO — Members of UNITE HERE Local 2 held a celebration of about 75 people here Aug. 8 to mark their victory against Centerplate, a food-catering company servicing more than 300 stadiums and other venues in the U.S., Canada and the United Kingdom. Some 800 concession workers at AT&T Park Stadium signed a contract that included hard-fought wage gains and the right to transfer to other stadiums, while maintaining medical benefits.

“It was a five-year struggle but as soon as we stood side by side as the union and told the community our stories we began to win,” Patricia Ramirez, a culinary worker, told the Militant.

Workers’ wages had been frozen since 2009. During their fight for a contract they picketed games and carried out strike actions.

Carole Lesnick

Related article:
Steelworkers in Illinois fight another lockout by Honeywell
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