Why Workers At An Ohio Kellogg Factory Want To Unionize

The worldwide market for plant-based meats has exploded in recent years, according to Statista, which forecasts a steady increase in market value through 2026 to $16.7 billion (up from $6.67 billion in 2020). Kellogg's acquired Morningstar Farms back in 1999 — a full decade before meat alternative giant Beyond Meat was founded (per Entrepreneur). In 2020, Kellogg's invested $43 million in upgrading its Zanesville, Ohio plant, which is the one dedicated to producing Morningstar Farms products, per vegconomist. Indeed, with plant-based protein on the minds and mouths of many, Morningstar Farms apparently "couldn't be happier," as Kellogg's boasts on its website. Unfortunately for the powers that be over at one of the biggest food companies in North America (per Statista), employees at the Zanesville plant aren't necessarily on the same page. 

On July 19, 2022, a representative from the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco, and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) petitioned the National Labor Relations Board  (NLRB) for a union vote on behalf of the employees of the plant, per Bloomberg. That vote will determine whether employees at the plant (293 currently, per NLRB) will be represented by BCTGM in collective bargaining with the company regarding the terms of their employment. According to BCTGM Union representative Lisa Gregory, at least 50% of the plant's employees voted in favor of filing the petition, as required by the NLRB. Here's why workers at this Ohio Kellogg's factory want to organize.

Workers feel overworked and undercompensated

"Organizing is having a boom right now," according to Lisa Gregory, a representative for the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco, and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM), per Bloomberg. And no one knows this better than Starbucks, which is facing union drives at well over 300 locations across the U.S. (per More Perfect Union), not to mention related and presumably disruptive walk-outs such as the ongoing strike at a Starbucks in Boston, Massachusetts, per Restaurant Dive. But the drive to unionize that is taking place among workers at an Ohio Kellogg's factory is about much more than bandwagon-jumping. Workers at Kellogg's Morningstar Farms plant in Zanesville, Ohio feel "overworked" and undercompensated, according to Gregory. Mandatory overtime requirements, a health insurance plan with a high employee pay-in, and allegations of favoritism play a role.

This is not the first time that Kellogg's workers have organized. In fact, unionized Kellogg's workers at four cereal factories organized a strike that lasted 11 weeks in 2021, leading to new and presumably more acceptable terms of employment for more than 1,400 Kellogg employees, per NPR. From a strategic standpoint, the union drive at Morningstar Farms could not come at a better time since Kellogg announced in June that it is spinning off all $340 million of its plant-based business into a MorningStar Farms-anchored brand, Plant Co.