After a strike of about three weeks, hundreds of employees at snack maker Frito-Lay in Kansas were able to fold management on Saturday and obtain an amended collective bargaining agreement. “Workers have shown the world that unionized people can stand up to the largest food companies in the world and win victory for themselves, their families and their communities,” said Anthony Shelton, the union’s international president.
Prito-Lee, whose parent company is the global PepsiCo, produces some of the best-known and best-selling snacks in the world, including Chitos, Doritos, Lays Chips, Fritos and others. According to the company’s reports from this month, Perito-Lee’s net revenue rose 7% to $ 4.55 billion.
Poor quality of life
Prior to the strike, Prito-Lay workers complained of “poor quality of life resulting from employment conditions, which include long hours, compulsory overtime and a stuck wage.” According to them, due to the difficult shifts they did not have enough time to “see their family, perform chores at home, go shopping or even sleep a full night’s sleep”.
The workers repeatedly asked the management to hire more workers to relieve pressure from the existing workers, but according to the union, the Prito-Lei management refused to do so despite the company’s recent record profits.
“I am a woman who works very hard,” said Helen Titter, who works on one of the production lines for local radio KCUR 89.3. I work like crazy. The job does not leave me much available to see my family because I work seven days a week, about 84 hours a week. “Another worker, Marlon Smith, added:” I have been working here for 22 years and I am still forced to work seven days a week. “
End of suicide shifts
The new contract gives workers at least one day without work a week and puts an end to what workers call “suicide shifts” or “extortion shifts” as the company calls them, in which workers have to work four more hours beyond the regular eight hours (7:00 – 15:00) ), Then report for the next shift a few hours later. During the strike the company rejected these claims and claimed that “only” 20 workers – 2% of the 850 plant thickness – worked on average over 60 hours per week.
The company also stated that during the strike the workers were offered a new contract (rejected by the union) which included a wage increase of 2% for all workers in the next two years as well as a working hours ceiling – a maximum of 60 hours.
The amended contract that was finally agreed upon “gives a wage increase of 4% to all employees in all jobs for a period of two years.” According to the company’s statement, it will later discuss with the union about further improvements in terms of employment as well as the issue of overtime. Reports of the agreement were first published in the New York Times.
The 20-day strike was the first in a factory that has been active for several decades and its workers are affiliated with the “Association of International Bakers, Confectioners, Tobacco and Flour Mills”. In previous comments before the end of the strike, Prito-Lee said the union’s claims of long working hours were “extremely exaggerated”.
“We believe our approach to resolving this strike demonstrates our listening ear to employees. And when they raise concerns they are taken seriously and treated. Looking to the future, we look forward to continuing to build on what we have achieved together on the basis of trust and mutual respect.”