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.”