Kellogg workers unite to discuss return to work; Cohen and Wilkins clash

Kellogg workers unite to discuss return to work; Cohen and Wilkins clash
Kellogg employees met Sunday to continue to rally support and talk about what's next. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
Kellogg employees met Sunday to continue to rally support and talk about what's next. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
Union president teared up at the mention of how the lock out affected his ability to do things for his children. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)
Union president teared up at the mention of how the lock out affected his ability to do things for his children. (Photo Source: WMC Action News 5)

(WMC) - After months without work, Kellogg workers will finally be able to return to their jobs.

One week from Monday, workers will head back to the jobif each individual employee chooses to accept the invitation. Many workers met to continue to rally support and talk about what's next.

Union president Kevin Bradshaw encouraged the workers and reminded them of the support they've received over the past several months.

"Think about going home with no lights, because you can't pay your light bill. Think about your kids, you can't do anything for them," said Bradshaw.

Hundreds of employees, family members and politicans gathered to celebrate what they call a win and to discuss what's next.

"There was a lot of hurt, we had not had medical for 10 months and just did what I could do to make it and keep my house and pay my bills," said 23-year Kellogg employee Robert McGowen.

In a letter issued to all employees, Kellogg invited the employees back to work. The workers have until August 8 to notify the officer whether they will accept or decline the offer. If they accept, they will then report to a "return-to-work training" and a processing session on Monday, August 11.

"When we go back to work we have to realize one thing, we have to continue to win and the only way we're going to continue to win is to go in with a level head. Remember all things and common suffering that we've shared through out this whole ordeal," added Bradshaw.

Ten months in the making, employees are ready to get back to work.

"It's great, we have come a long way and we've basically, we're protecting Kellogg from themselves," noted McGowen. "Because we started this and we finished it now."

During the Kellogg meeting, when people started eating their meals, Congressman Steve Cohen called the group "courageous and historic" for standing up for their rights, and congratulated them for their victory.

But shortly after, Cohen's current opponent, Ricky Wilkins, took to the microphone. Wilkins first took a moment to say congratulations, then said the "truth needs to be told."

He went on to tell the crowd that Cohen's largest annual financial contributor, American Crystal Sugar, is a company that locks out employees.

"You can't have it both ways. You can't say you stand work for work and then take money every year from companies that lock workers out," said Wilkins.

The congressman was upset by the comments, especially at a meeting meant for celebration. Another union representative spoke on his behalf saying that Cohen fully supported the locked out workers in Washington and at every event he was asked to attend.

Cohen responded to the criticism on Saturday night, saying he has the major support of every union in Washington along with the AFL and CIO, and that he has always voted "yes" to labor.

Also, Cohen says this is something that only matters to Ricky Wilkins and it is a "desperate call by someone who doesn't understand Washington."

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