Having the President personally criticize Kellogg’s plans to hire permanent replacements for its striking workers is signficant. There are also the logisitical difficulties involved in the company replacing 1,400 trained employees at a time when the food industry is facing a labor crisis.
And, the company has had to contend with a significant amount of negative publicity around the replacement worker plan, as well as social media campaigns that seek to trip up its efforts.
Reddit users on the subreddit “r/antiwork” have spammed job postings for replacement employees with massive amounts of fake applications in a post that received more than 65,000 upvotes. The application website reportedly crashed as a result.
Social media users on Twitter and TikTok have also promoted the fake application scheme, instructing users to place fake names with real addresses and zip codes, with a goal of destabilizing the company’s hiring process. In response, Kellogg added a “captcha” to the application webpage in order to prevent bots from filling them out, Reddit users discovered.
The Kellogg strike has entered relatively unchartered territory. One of the other biggest food industry strikes this year at five Mondelēz factories ended when BCTGM agreed to a new contract. None of the other major strikes at American businesses this year, such as at John Deere plants, reached the point of the employer saying it would replace its workforce permanently.
That said, it remains to be seen whether or not negotiations are over. Kellogg called its Nov. 3rd contract proposal, which it said would raise wages and get rid of the “two-tiered” payment structure that has been a central sticking point with the union, its “Last Best Final Offer.” When it was rejected, the company again made another offer later that month, and credited federal mediators for their assistance. With the entry of President Biden into the conversation, the two parties may feel compelled to return to the negotiating table.