by Toby Sells
Memphis and Shelby County leaders are the latest public figures to join the fight for workers locked out of the Memphis Kellogg’s factory because of a labor dispute.
Memphis City Council members Lee Harris and Janis Fullilove and Shelby County Commissioner Steve Mulroy said Monday they’ll support the workers with resolutions before their perspective legislative bodies. Also, they’ll physically join the picket camp next Wednesday outside the gates of the factory on Airways if the matter has not been resolved.
Harris called the lockout a “terrible situation” and compared it to the negotiations on the Affordable Care Act months ago that led to what he said was the Republican-led shutdown of the federal government.
“It wasn’t productive then and it’s not productive now,” Harris said.
Mulroy said Kellogg’s wants to convert its full-time labor force to part-time workers who would not get any health care or pension benefits and would be paid less than full-time workers. He said the lock out was a negotiating tactic used to “strong-arm” workers to “sign away their fates” and that Kellogg’s is not being a “good corporate citizen.”
During a Monday news conference, Mulroy produced a box of Frosted Flakes, a Kellogg’s cereal.
“If you ask me what I think about (Frosted Flakes), I’d say 'they’re great,'” Mulroy said mimicking the famous catch phrase by Kellogg’s mascot Tony the Tiger. “But they don’t taste so great when I realize what’s happening in order to make this stuff.”
The union representing the workers awaits a decision on a formal complaint it filed against the company with the National Labor Relations Board. They petitioned the federal employee rights board to end the lock out because they consider it an unfair negotiating tactic and to get the cereal maker to back to the negotiating table.
Kellogg’s told its Memphis workers not to come back to work in October after negotiations broke down on a new contract.