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Frito-Lay says strike unnecessarily puts employees at risk of hardships

FILE - Union members from the BCTGM Local #218 took to SW Topeka Blvd. on Monday for day one of...
FILE - Union members from the BCTGM Local #218 took to SW Topeka Blvd. on Monday for day one of the strike.(WIBW)
Published: Jul. 16, 2021 at 3:31 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - According to Frito-Lay, an ongoing strike with its labor union unnecessarily puts employees at risk of economic hardships. It says it has in fact made concessions to some union negotiations.

Frito-Lay says it sent a letter home to employees to reflect the facts of the ongoing labor strike. It said it is committed to providing a safe and fair workplace for all employees.

“The letter sent home to employees is to ensure employees have facts of the situation. Frito-Lay is committed to providing a safe and fair workplace for all of our employees. We believe our existing two-year offer addresses the concerns that have been raised at our Topeka facility,” said the Company. “That good-faith offer, which was recommended by the entire union bargaining committee, accepted the union’s proposal for across-the-board wage increases and improved work rules that would reduce overtime and hours worked. 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.”

The Company said of the about 850 manufacturing and warehouse employees that are currently on strike, about 300 have exercised their right to continue to work. It said hourly wages at the site range from $18.35 to $34.82 per hour. It said it has a consistent compensation philosophy to allow competitive wages based on a market analysis of similar jobs and considers benefits packages as a competitive total rewards strategy.

According to the Company, its July 1 offer was for a 2-year contract with all job classifications getting a 4% wage increase over the length of the contract. It said the offer is what the union proposed for wage increases and shows its acceptance of the proposal. While the union has suggested that the Company did not meet its terms, Frito-Lay said it had agreed to the union’s proposed economic terms.

In addition, Frito-Lay said it proposed overtime limitations, not the union. It said its July 1 offer capped required work at 60 hours per week.

“We wholly reject the allegation that an employee “collapsed and died” and the company “moved the body and put in another co-worker to keep the line going,” said Frito-Lay. “While it’s unclear what incident the associate may be referring to, we are aware of only two instances in the last five years in which an individual has experienced a medical emergency at the plant that unfortunately resulted in that individual passing away. In both cases, medical attention was initially provided at the plant and work ceased until the associates were safely on the way to the hospital.”

Frito-Lay said while it works to resolve the strike, it remains focused on continuing to run the operations of the plant and set a contingency plan to ensure employee safety.

In the letter sent to employees, Frito-Lay also said it eliminated squeeze shifts, which have also been referred to as “suicide shifts.” It said this kind of shift will no longer be required and any employee that works such a shift will only do so if they want to.

A letter sent to Frito-Lay team members regarding Union negotiations on July 12, 2021.
A letter sent to Frito-Lay team members regarding Union negotiations on July 12, 2021.(WIBW)

13 NEWS has reached out to Union leadership regarding the letter but has received no response.

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