Striking Frito-Lay Workers Demand Better Hours

Hundreds of staff who make Cheetos, Lays potato chips and different common snack meals at a Frito-Lay plant in Topeka, Kan., have been on strike since July 5, protesting what they name “suicide shifts” and different poor working situations.

The staff, who’re members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union, Local 218, stated that that they had been pushed to exhaustion and that the corporate had refused to handle their issues.

“This strike is about more than wages and benefits,” Anthony Shelton, the union’s worldwide president, stated in a press release. “It is about the quality of life for these workers and their families.”

Mr. Shelton stated that, regardless of warnings to Frito-Lay administration over the past decade, staff had been compelled to work seven days per week, as much as 12 hours per shift. Many of the greater than 800 staff on the plant, he stated, had gotten solely eight-hour breaks between shifts, leaving them little time to see their households, run errands or get a wholesome night time’s sleep.

Workers have referred to as these double or triple shifts “suicide shifts” and have blamed them on understaffing, which they stated Frito-Lay may simply tackle with out hurting the corporate’s backside line. Frito-Lay is a division of PepsiCo, which just lately reported an enormous bounce in income in its drinks and snacks companies within the second quarter.

The meals and beverage large, which is house to Pepsi, Mountain Dew and Doritos, stated in July that its internet income within the quarter surged 20.5 % to $19.2 billion from a 12 months earlier.

“The union has repeatedly asked the company to hire more workers, and yet despite record profits, Frito-Lay management has refused this request,” Mr. Shelton stated.

As the strike continued on Thursday, each side gave the impression to be working towards a decision.

Andy Sanchez, government secretary-treasurer of the Kansas State AFL-CIO, stated he had heard from hanging staff on Thursday that the union had reached a “tentative agreement” with Frito-Lay that was scheduled for a vote by the membership on Friday.

“It just remains to be seen whether it will pass or not,” he stated.

A spokeswoman for the bakery, confectionery, tobacco staff and grain millers union declined to touch upon Thursday.

Frito-Lay stated in a press release on Thursday that it had spent the final three days collectively revisiting the phrases of a previous provide and had “aligned on a new offer that will better address employee concerns around guaranteed days off and create additional opportunities for the union to have input into staffing and overtime.”

“Importantly, the revised offer once again includes across-the-board wage increases to employees in all job classifications,” the corporate stated. “We believe this offer addresses the most pressing issues raised by our employees, and we believe it represents a win-win for both the union and Frito-Lay.”

It stated it couldn’t launch the main points of the provide, on the union’s request, however was urging staff to ratify the proposal to allow them to return to the plant.

Frito-Lay additionally referred to as the union’s claims about work hours on the plant “grossly exaggerated.”

Out of about 850 staff in Topeka, solely 20 averaged over 60 hours per week, the corporate stated. It stated its data indicated that 19 staff labored 84 hours in a given workweek this 12 months, and 16 of these had volunteered for additional time. Only three of the 19 had been required to work, the corporate stated.

Frito-Lay employs greater than 66,000 individuals, and the strike is the primary at one among its vegetation in three a long time, in accordance with the corporate.

Of roughly 850 manufacturing and warehouse staff who’re a part of the bargaining unit on strike, about 300 have exercised their authorized proper to proceed working, the corporate stated.

Hourly wages on the plant vary from $18.35 to $36.91 per hour, in accordance with the corporate. Frito-Lay stated its provide to the union on July 1 referred to as for a two-year contract with a four % wage enhance for all job classifications over the interval.

Many of the employees, nevertheless, “wished they could do more” to guard staff from compelled additional time and to extend wages, Mr. Sanchez stated.

Union leaders have complained about staff coming into the plant with out correct coaching, which they are saying suggests the corporate will not be taking security precautions critically.

On the picket line, hanging staff have held indicators that learn: “Forced Overtime = No Family Time,” and “shareholders don’t make chips, employees do!”

“Wages have been stagnant for a long, long time and this got to the point where workers have just had enough,” Mr. Sanchez stated. “They were pushed to the limit.”