Frito-Lay and union leaders “making progress” on contract negotiations as strike continues

Published: Jul. 20, 2021 at 6:32 PM CDT
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TOPEKA, Kan. (WIBW) - On the second day of renewed contract discussions between Bakery, Confectionery, Grain Millers and Tobacco Workers (BCTGM) Local 218 union and Frito-Lay, union leadership said progress is being made on an agreement between both sides.

BCTGM’s Business Manager Mark Benaka told 13 NEWS the two parties are “making progress” and discussed overtime relief language during talks Tuesday.

George Jackson, a union member who has worked in several positions around Frito-Lay in his 15 years at the company, said he is feeling hopeful about what can come out of discussions.

“It may help some people get a life outside the company and I’ve been all over the company in different departments and I hear all sorts of complaints, that they’re tired and the morale’s real low and they want the company to give time off to visit with family,” he described.

“I think that’s the biggest thing on this strike is to get people time off to be with family, that’s the biggest thing.”

Jackson said he is hoping the contract will allow for more of a work-life balance as well as his first raise in three years.

“The raise would be helpful if you’d notice everything’s going up but our pay’s not going up keeping up with the cost of living that’s gone up,” he said.

Frito-Lay reached out to 13 NEWS Sunday night saying Carolyn Fisher, the Vice President of Global Labor Relations, would be available to interview about the negotiations with BCTGM on Monday. but they pushed it off to Tuesday.

Tuesday Frito-Lay told 13 NEWS Fisher will interview as soon as negotiations are wrapped.

A company spokesperson referred 13 NEWS to their latest statement which reads in part:

“Out of approximately 850 employees in Topeka, only 55 – 6 percent of the workforce – averaged over 50 hours of work per week in 2021...The total number of work weeks at 84 hours is less than .1% of the total for the site. With the overtime restrictions we proposed and were recommending, this would be 0% in the future had the contract Frito-Lay presented been ratified.”

The full statement can be found here.

Jackson said more personal time would have positive effects.

“I’m getting older, I want to see my doctors more often because kind of like a lot of these people, I’m now a diabetic, so I’m trying to keep myself healthy to get time to work out get time with the kids,” he explained.

“I mean when you get a positive influence on your kids they could grow up to be somebody someday.”

Members of BCTGM Local 218 have been on strike since July 5.

BCTGM members voted 353-30 to strike the first weekend of July after they voted down the most recent contract negotiation between the company and union leaders.

According to Benaka, that two-year contract limited the amount of forced overtime per week. It limited union members to work no more than 12 hours in a 24-hour period and solidifies a cap on a total number of hours per week.

It also included a two percent pay raise each of the two years.

Contract negotiations date back to September when union leadership brought the issues of stagnant wages and overtime before company representatives.

Those talks did not result in a contract and ultimately lead a federal mediator was brought in for those talks.

Renewed contract discussions will continue Wednesday.

Benaka said union leadership hopes to reach an agreement for union members to vote on before the end of the week.

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