The Shocking Reason Some Frito-Lay Workers Are Going On Strike

Dangerously cheesy? More like "dangerously greedy," some Frito-Lay workers are saying about the company that employs them. Nearly 600 workers at one of the company's largest manufacturing plants, located in Topeka, Kansas, went on strike this week. After weeks of negotiations between Frito-Lay and the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers union, employees picketed outside their workplace demanding higher wages and less mandatory overtime, reports the Kansas News Service.

Some strikers are particularly frustrated with the number of hours they are required to work at the plant, which produces Cheetos, Fritos, and other products. Mark McCarter, who has worked for Frito-Lay for 37 years, told the Topeka-Capital Journal that many employees must work 12 hours a day, seven days a week, while others described having as little as eight hours to rest between shifts. And for some workers, wages have increased as little as 20 cents per year over the past decade. "Milk's gone up, meat has gone up. Everything has gone up," 30-year Frito-Lay employee Tracy Johnson told the Kansas News Service. "But our wages have stayed the same."

Employees voted against an agreement between Frito-Lay and union representatives

After rising demands from employees that Frito-Lay raise wages and reduce hours, the company and local union representatives agreed on a two-year contract that included annual pay increases and limited overtime, according to the Topeka-Capital Journal. However, employees rejected the contract, saying that the yearly 2% wage increase (less than 50 cents more an hour for many employees) was too little (via the Kansas News Service). When a previous two-year contract expired at the beginning of this week, the strike began.

Union representatives warned Frito-Lay that employees would likely turn down the proposal. One employee published an op-ed for the Topeka-Capital Journal describing the plant's dangerous conditions and "toxic" culture, saying she was "shocked" that the company was "so out of touch" with its employees. Currently, Frito-Lay is "continuing to run the operations" of the Topeka plant — a process that one striker said is difficult since most of the workforce is missing (via the Kansas News Service). "When I started 25 years ago, this was an outstanding place to work," striker Rodney North told the Topeka-Capital Journal. "I was proud to say I worked at Frito-Lay. Now, I'm ashamed."