Christmas on the picket lines - FOX13 News, WHBQ FOX 13

Christmas on the picket lines

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    Friday, October 4 2013 3:43 PM EDT2013-10-04 19:43:45 GMT
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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (FOX13) -

More than 200 union workers have been locked out of the Kellogg's cereal plant in Memphis since October. Since then they've lost their insurance and are not getting paid, but they have been keeping vigil outside the plant for the past two months.

This labor dispute has dragged on through the holidays. These workers say it is going to be a difficult Christmas but they say they've received a lot of support from the community and other Kellogg's employees around the country.

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When they were locked out in mid-October, these Kellogg's union workers didn't think they'd be spending Christmas Eve on a picket line.
    
"It's difficult, especially this time of the year being without a job, you know?," said Greg Miller. "Tough on your kids and family, no insurance, drawing unemployment. It's really tough, it's really tough."

Miller has worked for Kellogg's for 22 years. Working for the Memphis plant runs in his family. His mother has spent three decades at the cereal plant. He says it's important for the workers to keep up their presence along Airways Boulevard.

"We strongly believe in what we represent, which is fair and equal treatment to all Kellogg's workers," Miller said.

The Kellogg Company locked out 220 union employees Oct. 21 after talks with the union broke down. There are disagreements over the labor contract, pay, and the company wants the ability to hire casual employees to work in the plant.

"It's been real hard on my family," said Kevin Hall, who has a wife and son to support. He's depending on unemployment to get by the holiday season. He continues to stand out in the cold to spread the message about what the workers are going through.

"Put yourself in our shoes," Hall said. "We're not making any money, so I'm just fortunate enough I've been able to pay the bills, you know? I don't know how much longer I can hold out."

It's been a hard two months for the workers and their families, but they believe in what they're fighting for.

"I'll stand out here until next Christmas if I have to," said Miller, who hopes the union and the company get back to the negotiating table soon.

One Christmas on the picket line is enough.

"I want to work, I want to go back to work," he said. "I really want to go back to work."

The Kellogg Company sent Fox 13 News the following statement:  "We have been - and remain - available to meet with the Union to address concerns or answer questions in an effort to reach an agreement on our last/best offer or consider any proposals from the Union.  Regrettably, the Union has not yet provided the Company any written proposals during these negotiations, so there is nothing for us to consider at this time.  Once we agree to a fair and competitive contract, we all can get back to the important business of keeping this plant moving forward."

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