On the Picket Line

Frito-Lay strikers angered by injury to temporary worker

By Brian Williams
May 31, 2021

On the picket line at the Frito-Lay plant in Topeka, Kansas, May 12, members of Local 218 of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Union expressed anger over an injury to one of the temporary workers bosses recently brought into the plant. The picket, the third organized in the past three months, is part of the fight by workers there for a new contract.

The temp worker fell off while operating a forklift that then “rolled up onto her leg,” local union President Brent Hall told WIBW-TV. “This is something we let [Frito-Lay] do, we let them bring in a temporary company because they were skilled drivers, let them drive the forklifts and then, hear somebody don’t know what they’re doing.

“It just hurts that you’re somewhat responsible for it,” he added, “because we let them come in.”

The workers are fighting for a pay raise, improved benefits and against forced overtime the bosses routinely order with almost no notice. Seeking to alleviate this onerous overtime was the reason Local 218 agreed to let the bosses bring in the contract workers. The local represents some 800 workers at the plant.

On March 31 the unionists voted 265-36 to reject what the company insisted was its “last, best final offer.” “A lot of people haven’t gotten raises in six to eight years,” Dan Negrete, chief steward on the local union’s contract negotiations committee, told the Topeka Capital-Journal.

The union says there will be a vote on a new company proposal May 15.