Unionized workers fight for better wages and benefits in the post-pandemic economy

Omaha, Nebraska – Part of America’s great resignation is a great repudiation – workers stand up and demand better, as companies struggle to find enough people to fill the vacancies.

A strike by more than 1,000 workers at the Kellogg factory is in its seventh week. There are ongoing walkouts by coal miners in Alabama. Northern California health care workers are also on strike. John Deere recently moved in with 10,000 striking workers, as did Mercy Hospital in Buffalo, New York.

“Workers definitely have more leverage in the job market because employers have to hire,” said Johnnie Kallas, project director at Cornell University’s Labor Action Tracker. “They are understaffed and therefore the workers have more bargaining power.”

At Kellogg’s four factories in the United States, workers are demanding an end to a two-tier pay structure the union conceded in 2015 that pays new hires lower wages indefinitely.

“We are professional grain farmers,” said mechanic Dan Osborn, one of 1,400 striking Kellogg workers. “We’ve been doing this our whole life. And they’re not going to get any better than that.”

“I think we have the upper hand right now,” added James Jackson, a striking mining operator.

Maintenance mechanic Robert Jensen pointed to Nebraska’s unemployment rate – 1.9%, the lowest of any state in history.

“There just aren’t enough skilled craftspeople to fill all of these openings,” Jensen said.

Kellogg’s said the strike forced him to start replacing workers.

“The extended work stoppage left us with no choice but to start hiring permanent employees to replace those who are currently on strike,” Kellogg’s said in a statement to CBS News.

Even as the weather gets colder and the picket gets old, Osborn said the employees won’t give up on their fight.

“We will stay here one more day than they want,” he said.

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