Frito-Lay Strike Shines Light on Factory Working Conditions

After nearly three weeks, the Frito-Lay worker strike has ended in Kansas.

Employees in Topeka, Kansas have ratified a revised contract addressing what union leaders previously described as a diminished quality of life due to working conditions such as long hours, forced overtime, and stagnating wages, reported CNN (July 24).

WHY WORKERS WERE STRIKING

Earlier this month, The Washington Post reported that hundreds of striking Frito-Lay workers in the state were calling the snack maker to put an end to forced overtime and 84-hour workweeks brought on by a pandemic-era surge in demand. The 20-day strike marked the first at the plant in its decades of operation.

Workers at the Topeka plant were being pushed to the brink as the factory revved up operations during the pandemic, according to the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Local 218.

Many of the factory’s employees were working seven days a week, and up to 12 hours per shift, having just eight hours between clocking in and clocking out, according to the union’s international president, Anthony Shelton.

“They are forcing the current workforce to work double and triple shifts,” Shelton said as reported by The Washington Post. “Workers do not have enough time to see their family, do chores around the house, run errands, or even get a healthy night’s sleep.”

Frito-Lay had previously called the union’s claims about long hours “grossly exaggerated.”

TERMS OF THE NEW CONTRACT

The contract will provide workers with a guaranteed day off each work week, and eliminates so-called “suicide shifts,” in which workers put in eight-hour days plus four hours of overtime before returning for their next shift, according to a Frito-Lay statement provided to CNN Business.

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Frito-Lay also said the union representing the workers will have additional opportunities for input on staffing and overtime and that the revised contract also “offers 4% wage increases to employees in all job classifications over the two-year contract,” according to the company’s statement.

“We believe our approach to resolving this strike demonstrates how we listen to our employees, and when concerns are raised, they are taken seriously and addressed,” the company wrote in the statement.

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