2021 Frito-Lay strike
DateJuly 5–23, 2021
Location
Topeka, Kansas, United States
Caused by
  • Long hours
  • Mandatory overtime
  • Lack of pay raise
MethodsDemonstrations, internet activism, walkout
Parties
Lead figures
  • Anthony Shelton
  • David Woods
  • Brent Hall
Number
600

The 2021 Frito-Lay strike was a labor strike by employees at the Topeka, Kansas Frito-Lay plant against the company's mandatory overtime policy. The strike began on July 5, 2021 and ended on July 23, 2021.

Background

Frito-Lay has a contract with the Local 218 chapter of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers' International Union, which represents Topeka, Kansas. The warehouse employs approximately 700 to 800 workers, 600 of which are members of the BCTGM 218 chapter. Every two years, Frito-Lay and the BCTGM negotiate a contract for employee wages and conditions.[1] The most recent contract negotiations fell through after workers rejected a contract that had been recommended by union leadership and a work stoppage and strike occurred in response.[2][3]

Strike

The strike began on July 5, 2021, when approximately 600 members of the Local 218 chapter of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers' International Union (BCTGM) went on strike.[4] According to a report by Mic and Food & Wine, this represented approximately 80 percent of the workforce at the Topeka, Kansas plant for Frito-Lay.[5]

It was the first time the Local 218 chapter of the BCTGM union went on strike since 1973.[6] The reasons for the strike, per the union, were that employees were working as many as 12-hour days, up to 7 days a week under mandatory overtime, which employees often refer to as "suicide shifts".[7][8] Wages had been stagnant for 15 years, and the new contract only promises a low merit-based increase of up to two percent. Some union members said that their wages had only increased 77 cents per hour in the last 12 years.[9]

The strike ended July 23 with the workers getting a contract with the company that guarantees one day off a week.[10] The new contract does away with "suicide shifts", although mandatory overtime is still in effect.

Reactions

Frito-Lay

Frito-Lay denied any wrongdoing on their part, and claimed that the strike is a result of union leadership, stating that "union leadership is out of touch with the sentiments of Frito-Lay employees" and "we do not anticipate any further negotiations with the union for the foreseeable future. Frito-Lay will be focused on continuing to run the operations of our plant in Topeka and has a contingency plan in place to ensure employee safety. We will continue to be attentive to the situation and welcome any employees who wish to continue to work as they are legally entitled to do so."[11]

Political organizations

The Kansas City chapter of the Democratic Socialists of America expressed solidarity with the strike and provided fundraising for striking workers.[12]

Other unions

Members from the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and the Industrial Workers of the World picketed with BCTGM workers, and provided food and financial assistance.[13] The Heartland IWW chapter, which represents Wobblies that live in the Kansas City area provided solidarity and fundraising during the contract negotiations with Frito-Lay and BCTGM during March 2021.[14]

Impact

As a consequence of the strike, many grocery and convenience stores in the Kansas City metro area faced a chip shortage within 5 days of the strike.[15][16][17]

See also

References

  1. ^ "Hundreds of workers on strike at Frito-Lay plant in Topeka after rejecting contract". The Kansas City Star. July 6, 2021. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  2. ^ Telford, Taylor (July 14, 2021). "Hundreds of Frito-Lay workers on strike in Topeka, citing forced overtime and 84-hour workweeks". The Washington Post. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  3. ^ Censky, Abigail (July 10, 2021). "Workers Strike For Higher Wages And Less Overtime At Topeka Frito-Lay Plant". KCUR. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  4. ^ "Hundreds of workers on strike at Frito-Lay plant in Topeka". Associated Press. July 6, 2021. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  5. ^ Pomranz, Mike (July 12, 2021). "Frito-Lay Workers Go on Strike with Some Claiming They Face 84-Hour Work Weeks". Food & Wine. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  6. ^ Klapper, Rebecca (July 13, 2021). "Hundreds of Frito-Lay Workers Go on Strike, Citing 84-Hour Work Weeks". Newsweek. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  7. ^ Gurley, Lauren Kaori (July 16, 2021). "I'm a Frito-Lay Factory Worker. I Work 12-Hour Days, 7 Days a Week". Vice. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  8. ^ Press, Alex N. (July 19, 2021). "Frito-Lay Workers Are on Strike for Their Lives". Jacobin. Retrieved July 23, 2021.
  9. ^ Woodward, Alex (July 15, 2021). "The human cost of Doritos: Claims of 84-hour work weeks and stagnant wages at Frito-Lay factory where workers are on strike". The Independent. Archived from the original on July 15, 2021. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  10. ^ "Frito-Lay workers end 19-day strike in Kansas with contract that guarantees one day off per week". The Seattle Times. July 26, 2021. Retrieved August 1, 2021.
  11. ^ Peltier, Kelli (July 9, 2021). "Frito-Lay looking to hire new employees during employee strike". KSNT. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  12. ^ "Kansas City DSA stands in solidarity with the striking Frito-Lay workers in Topeka, BCTGM Local 218, as they fight for better living and working conditions". KCDSA. Facebook. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  13. ^ Flores, Reina (July 12, 2021). "The Community is showing its support for the Frito-Lay Union". WIBW. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  14. ^ "Solidarity with the workers at #FritoLay !". Heartland IWW. Facebook. March 17, 2021. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  15. ^ Dirnbach, Eric [@EricDirnbach] (July 11, 2021). "#FritoLayStrike #1u #UnionYes" (Tweet). Kansas City, Missouri. Retrieved July 16, 2021 – via Twitter.
  16. ^ Lee, Dennis (July 16, 2021). "Frito-Lay strike continues, and it's affecting the nation's chip supply [Updated]". The Takeout. Retrieved July 16, 2021.
  17. ^ Nichols, Cassie (July 13, 2021). "As Frito-Lay strike continues, Kansas grocery stores sees chip shortage". FOX4KC. Retrieved July 16, 2021.