(WMC-TV) – Kellogg workers have been off the job for almost four months. Now, the Congressional Progressive Caucus is stepping in, calling for an end to the lockout in a letter written to Kellogg Chief Executive Officer John Bryant. It is a move that workers see as a sign of hope in a long wait.
The lockout began in October and since then, workers have gone without paychecks as life continues to go on around them.
"We've been locked out since October the 22," said Tim Griggs, Kellogg's utility operator.
Time is of the essence for Tim Griggs, who, after 12 years of work for Kellogg, he and more than 200 others found themselves locked out.
"It's time to do something," he said. "We have somebody out here 24/7 ... We have a lot of support, a lot of people come by, drop money, just like that, honk their horn."
But with every passing car and every passing day, life goes on as the workers wait.
"We're in financial trouble," said Tim. "Bills are piling up, we're behind on the house, behind on the car."
Nearly out of savings, living off of unemployment and savings, Tim has lost a lot in the past few months.
"I lost my brother just a few weeks ago," he said. "We lost her [his wife's] sister a couple weeks ago."
His 32-year-old sister-in-law, Jennifer Owens, died just one week ago after living with family for seven months. Flowers from the funeral still sit on the kitchen table. His wife, Pam, is still trying to process the loss.
"I'm just praying every day now for something good," she said.
The couple is getting by, but time is running out.
"Before long there's not gonna be a home to live in, there's not gonna be a car to drive," said Pam. "I mean, it's gonna get to that point."
Pam goes back to work in a few weeks and she is hoping Tim will, too.
"That good will be Kellogg's will open their doors back up and put these boys back to work," added Pam.
In a letter written by the Congressional Progressive Caucus to the Kellogg's CEO, it urged the company to reconsider its approach to resolving the dispute and reach a mutual agreement.
In the meantime, workers are asking people to boycott Kellogg's products until the situation is resolved.
Kellogg company spokesperson Kris Charles released the following statement about the lockout:
"Kellogg is concerned that the situation in Memphis is ongoing and would like to see our employees back to work. To this end, we urge our employees to ask their union leaders to allow them to vote to keep their strong pay and benefits or to resume participation in the negotiations. Until then, we are unable to proceed to a resolution.
We are very much committed to reaching a fair and competitive contract that recognizes the important work of our employees and helps to ensure the long-term success of the plant. We look forward to having our employees back and working together to keep the Memphis plant moving forward."
Memphis City Councilwoman Wanda Halbert says she is getting Kellogg's officials and union representatives together with the mayor in an effort to reach an agreement. They plan to meet before their next city council meeting.
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