Millions of consumers have been laying low for most of the past year-and-a-half amid a global pandemic, which, understandably, fueled increased demand for comfort food.
The maker of Cheetos, Doritos and Tostitos scrambled to keep its snacks on store shelves, but in at least one plant, it reportedly came at the cost of its production workers’ well-being.
Members of the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers Local 218 are in the midst of a strike at the Frito-Lay plant in Topeka, Kansas, over what they say are unreasonable working conditions, the Washington Post reports.
Union officials say the plant has implemented forced overtime and 84-hour workweeks — many employees say they work seven days a week for up to 12 hours per shift, only to return to work eight hours later.
Workers also allege that their requests to hire more workers have been rebuffed, their safety concerns dismissed, and calls for hazard pay, bonuses or other compensation unheeded. Frito-Lay, the snack foods division of PepsiCo, took in $4.2 billion in sales alone last year as its parent company’s revenue and stock price have soared.
Frito-Lay says it made an offer to the union earlier this month that would address workers’ concerns, including a 60-hour workweek cap and a 4% wage increase. The company says it is committed to safely continuing operations in Topeka with the workers that remain — reportedly about 300 of its normal staff of 850.
Talks between the union and the company are set to resume Monday.