VOL. 129 | NO. 148 | Thursday, July 31, 2014
Mays Orders End To Kellogg Lock-Out
By Bill Dries
U.S. District Judge Samuel “Hardy” Mays has ordered an end to the lock-out of union workers at the Memphis Kellogg plant.
In an order published Wednesday, July 30, Mays ruled the company was using “creative semantics” to force changes in a master agreement with employees, represented by the Bakery, Confectionary, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, while insisting they were changes to the program for “casual” employees that the company was free to make.
Mays ruled in a lawsuit filed by the National Labor Relations Board April 15 against Kellogg seeking a temporary injunction.
“Kellogg effectively demanded changes to the wage rates of new or rehired regular employees,” Mays wrote. “Those rates are set in the master agreement. The good-faith bargaining required by the (National Labor Relations) Act does not allow Kellogg to use creative semantics to force midterm changes in the wages of new or rehired regular employees in violation of the master agreement.”
The lock-out began Oct. 22 with workers losing pay and insurance benefits. It came a day after the union’s attorney notified the plant manager that it had rejected a last best offer from Kellogg insisting the company had breached the master agreement with the union.
The company was seeking to classify casual employees as regular employees at a rate of pay $6- an-hour lower than regular employees with no benefits for the casuals and possibly replace regular employees with the casuals, since there would be no cap on the number of casuals, or lay off the regular employees and hire them back at lower pay as casuals.
In granting the request for an injunction and ordering an end to the lock-out, Mays cited the nine-month duration of the action.
“The administrative process may continue for many months and even years to come,” Mays wrote. “To allow the lockout to continue through that period would place significant hardship on employees in furtherance of Kellogg’s bargaining position, which petitioner has reasonable cause to believe is unlawful. That would undermine the remedial powers of the board.”
Kellogg has five days from the order to offer full and immediate interim reinstatement to every employee locked out. The reinstatement is at terms and conditions in effect when the lock out began or “substantially equivalent” positions if the positions no longer exist.