Members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Local 218 union have called on the snack food company to provide better working conditions and pay. Among their grievances are so-called “suicide shifts,” in which employees work a full eight-hour day plus four hours of overtime with little turnaround time before the next shift.
Corrina Christensen, communications director for the main Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers union told CNN on Thursday that negotiations had concluded and that it would not comment further until after a vote by members. Frito-Lay did not address specific requests for comment by CNN, instead pointing to public statements released this week.
Workers feel they’re being ‘pushed to the edge’
Workers at the Topeka plant, however, feel burned out.
“Before we walked out on the strike, they were 100 employees short already, which is where a lot of the overtime comes in,” said Paul Klemme, chief steward of Local 218.
“I think people are pushed to the edge,” he told the outlet. “COVID created some of this. During COVID, managers got to work from home. People see that and realize they have other options. Everyone’s hiring and raising their pay because no one wants to work for $8 an hour anymore.”
Cherie Renfro, another worker at the facility, criticized Frito-Lay for giving bonuses instead of raises and accused the company of lowering wages for new employees. She also said workers did not receive hazard pay or other recognition for the risks they took throughout the pandemic.
More than 800 workers are affected by the strike.
Where things stand
Union membership voted down 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.
Christensen, the spokesperson for the main union, said members are currently voting on the contract and that results are expected late Friday.