In recent years, however, employees and union members alike have claimed that the facility where Doritos, Cheetos and Tostitos are made has become another toxic work environment.
Hundreds of Frito-Lay workers at the Topeka factory are in the third week of a strike against what union leaders describe as long hours, forced overtime, stagnant wages and diminished quality of life. This is the first strike at the plant in its decades of operation.
Members of the local 218 bakery, confectionery, tobacco workers and grain millers union called on the snack food company to offer better working conditions and better wages. Among their grievances are so-called “suicide shifts,” in which employees work a full eight-hour day plus four overtime with little turn-around time before the next shift.
“Workers don’t have enough time to see their families, do housework, run errands or even get a good night’s sleep,” international union president Anthony Shelton said in a July 12 statement. “This strike aims to ensure that workers have a voice in their future and take a stand for their families. “
Corrina Christensen, communications director of the main bakery, confectionery, tobacco and millers union told CNN on Thursday that negotiations were over and he would not comment until a members vote. Frito-Lay did not respond to CNN’s requests for specific comment, instead highlighting public statements released this week.
Workers feel “pushed to the limit”
As the country continues to recover from the pandemic, PepsiCo recently posted quarterly profits that exceeded Wall Street estimates – Frito-Lay North America saw organic revenue rise 6%.
Workers at the Topeka factory, however, feel exhausted.
Union leaders said in a podcast interview last week that they have been calling on management for years to address staff shortages that have resulted in forced overtime and long shifts, but that the problems do not were not treated adequately.
“Before we pulled out of the strike, they were already short of 100 employees, which is a big part of the overtime,” said Paul Klemme, Chief Steward of Local 218.
Mark McCarter, a Frito-Lay employee and union representative who has worked at the Topeka factory for more than three decades, told VICE he makes $ 20.50 an hour despite his long career at the company and that he had not received an appropriate raise for 10 years. years.
“I think people are being pushed to the limit,” he told the outlet. “COVID created part of this. During COVID, managers were able to work from home. People see it and realize that they have other options. Everyone is hiring and increasing their pay because nobody wants to work for $ 8 an hour anymore. “
Cherie Renfro, another worker at the settlement, criticized Frito-Lay for giving bonuses instead of raises and accused the company of lowering wages for new employees. She also said workers have not received a risk bonus or other recognition for the risks they have taken throughout the pandemic.
“You have no problem paying for the drug tests, background checks, orientation and training of the more than 350 employees you hired and lost last year,” Renfro wrote in Topeka Capital-Journal. “But you have a problem giving decent wages to keep loyal, trained employees already here. “
More than 800 workers are affected by the strike.
Where are things
Union members rejected a July 1 offer made by Frito-Lay before going on strike.
Negotiations resumed this week and on Thursday the two sides concluded their talks.
Frito-Lay said in a statement that the new offer “will better address employee concerns about guaranteed days off and create additional opportunities for the union to participate in staffing and overtime,” adding that it would include general salary increases.
Christensen, the main union’s spokesperson, said members are currently voting on the contract and results are due on Friday evening.