Things That Matter

Frito-Lay Factory Workers Call For Boycott As Strike Goes On For More Than Two Weeks

Workers at the Frito-Lay factory in Topeka, Kansas are on strike demanding safer working conditions. The Frito-Lay employees are asking for people to boycott Frito-Lay products until the company addresses their concerns.

Frito-Lay factory workers in Topeka, Kansas are striking to change their working conditions.

Hundreds of striking workers in Kansas are demanding the company put an end to the 84-hour workweek and forced overtime. The union representing the workers is calling on the company to take the necessary steps, like hiring more people, to offset the working conditions the employees are facing. The Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) Local 218 is calling attention to the workers’ plight.

“The union has repeatedly asked the company to hire more workers, and yet despite record profits, Frito-Lay management has refused this request,” Anthony Shelton, the International President of the BCTGM, told The Washington Post.

PepsiCo., the parent company of Frito-Lay, has seen revenue increase during the pandemic.

On Monday, July 19, the union and Frito-Lay were continuing ongoing negotiations to address the problems brought to light by more than 500 workers striking. It is the first in-person meeting since the strike began on July 5.

“I think that’s the most important thing for Frito-Lay and the community, that these negotiations that happen on the 19th go well so I for one I can get back to work,” Brian Eardley, a striking Frito-Lay employee, told KSNT. “I’ve got to make money for my family too. The mortgage still needs to be paid.”

The strike has caught the nation’s attention.

The Topeka Capital-Journal published a letter from an employee at the plant that laid out some of the grievances that the factory workers are calling attention to. Included are numerous moments when employees were allegedly expected to work through unsafe or emotionally difficult times.

“When a co-worker collapsed and died, you had us move the body and put in another co-worker to keep the line going,” reads one of the grievances in the letter written by Cherie Renfro.

She added: “During the COVID-19 lockdown, a co-worker’s father passed away in another state. You told her since there wasn’t a funeral she didn’t qualify for bereavement time. She had to take off two of her own days to grieve.”

Frito-Lay has responded to some media requests for comment. According to a statement to The Washington Post, Frito-Lay raised the possibility of financial hardship the strike could cause to the workers.

“We believe the strike unnecessarily puts our employees at risk of economic hardship, and we are focused on resolving this matter as expeditiously and fairly as possible,” Frito-Lay told The Washington Post in a statement. “While we work to resolve the strike, we remain focused on continuing to run the operations of the plant in Topeka and set a contingency plan to ensure employee safety.”

Factory workers are asking consumers to assist them in their strike.

As the strike continues and negotiations are ongoing, workers from the Frito-Lay factory are calling on consumers to boycott Frito-Lay and PepsiCo. products. The employees want to send a message to the company that working conditions need to change.

This is a developing story and we will update as things change.

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