BATTLE CREEK, Mich. — Kellogg's announced Thursday their intent to cut a couple hundred jobs at its Battle Creek factory. The decision impacts 223 salaried and hourly employees and is scheduled to begin in the next few months.
"The timing isn’t fair for the people of Battle Creek," said city commissioner and former mayor Mark Behnke. "I'm optimistic though that our city officials, our city leaders, our economic developers, the state of Michigan, the governor are going to take this very seriously and sit down with Kellogg."
Kellogg released a statement to FOX 17 stating that the cuts are a part of larger 2020 plan to simplify and streamline operations at their Ready-To-Eat-Cereal (RETC) center on Porter Street. The company said they'd like to increase production and invest in the areas where demand is high: bran cereals and rice krispies. Consequently, this means they have to stop a few other lines of production.
"We understand the situation that they’re up against," said Commissioner Behnke. "However the severity and the way that this has hit Battle Creek, I think it’s important that we take the opportunity to study it, work with the union, see if there's any efficiencies that we can result in not eliminating the number of jobs."
The employees affected were informed early Thursday morning. However, before the cuts are finalized, the union in Battle Creek will be able to review the proposal, according to a company spokesperson. If approved, the cuts will begin in early 2018.
"I would hope there is hope," said Commissioner Mark Behnke. "But you got to look at the fact that Kellogg is a huge corporation. It's something that they study very hard. I'm sure they didn’t make this [decision] at a whim."
Earlier this year, Kellogg's announced it was cutting 250 jobs at its headquarters and closing 39 distribution centers nationwide. Commissioner Behnke said locally talks with Kellogg's are already in the works. City officials have already reached out to SouthWest Michigan First and few other organizations about finding the laid-off workers new employment.
"Don’t give up hope yet," he said referring to all this affected. "We believe in Battle Creek. Kellogg's believes in Battle Creek. They’ve been here a longtime. Lets work together. Lets find the solutions that we need to save the jobs that have been proposed to be eliminated."