Biden ‘deeply troubled’ by reports of Kellogg replacing striking workers By Reuters

© Reuters. U.S. President Joe Biden delivers closing remarks with leaders from democratic nations at the State Department’s virtual Summit for Democracy, in a speech from the Eisenhower Executive Office Building’s South Court Auditorium at the White House in Washing

By Mohammad Zargham and Nandita Bose

WASHINGTON (Reuters) -U.S. President Joe Biden said he was “deeply troubled” by reports Kellogg (NYSE:) Co planned to hire permanent replacements for striking unionized employees after they voted down a proposed contract this week.

Biden, who has put unions at the center of his policymaking, said such actions undermine the critical role collective bargaining plays in giving workers a voice.

“Permanently replacing striking workers is an existential attack on the union and its members’ jobs and livelihoods. I have long opposed permanent striker replacements and I strongly support legislation that would ban that practice,” Biden said in a statement.

Kellogg said on Tuesday that a majority of its U.S. cereal plant workers had voted against a new five-year contract, forcing it to hire permanent replacements as employees extend a strike that started more than two months ago.

This is the second time the president has weighed in to express his support for unions and the organized labor movement. In February, he defended workers’ rights to form unions as Inc (NASDAQ:) employees in Alabama prepared to vote on whether to unionize. Last month, a regional director for the U.S. National Labor Relations Board ordered a rerun of that election, which ended in a defeat for the union effort.

Biden and Democrats have tried to stop the hiring practice via the Protecting the Right to Organize Act, or PRO Act, which was passed by the U.S. House of Representatives in March but faces long odds in the Senate.

The percentage of U.S. workers represented by a union fell almost 15 percentage points between 1979 and 2020, according to the White House. That drop, the White House says, has cost workers $200 billion a year in unrealized wages and benefits.

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