- Around 600 workers in a Kansas Frito-Lay plant are on strike.
- They say many are forced to work over 80 hour weeks with no days off.
- Federal law puts no limits on how much overtime workers can be asked to work.
Hundreds of Frito-Lay workers in Topeka, Kansas have been striking over forced overtime and low pay.
Around 600 of the plant’s about 750 workers voted to rejected a proposed contract and stopped working on July 5, The Wichita Eagle reported. Workers cite long hours and lack of raises as reasons for rejecting the contract.
Monk Drapeaux-Stewart, a box drop technician, told activist nonprofit organization Labor Notes that his wages have only increased by 77 cents in his 12 years on the job. Recent contracts have included one-time bonuses while leaving wages stagnant for most workers, Labor Notes reported.
The new contract included a 2% wage increase and limits workweeks to 60 hours.
Frito-Lay said the contract, which was recommended by the union in Topeka, is a fair deal for employees in a statement on the company’s website.
“Frito-Lay is committed to providing a safe and fair workplace for all of our employees. We believe our existing two-year offer addresses the concerns that have been raised at our Topeka facility,” the statement reads. “That good-faith offer , which was recommended by the entire union bargaining committee, accepted the union’s proposal for across-the-board wage increases and improved work rules that would reduce overtime and hours worked. We believe the strike unnecessarily puts our employees at risk of economic hardship, and we are focused on resolving this matter as expeditiously and fairly as possible.”
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Beyond wages, workers also say they are being made to work unreasonable over time, sometimes over 80 hours per week.
Mark McCarter, who has worked at the Topeka plant for 37 years, told Vice that workers are frequently clocking in 84 hour weeks, without a single day off in months, including weekends.
Federal overtime law is determined by the Fair Labor Standards Act, which doesn’t place any limits on how many hours workers 16 or over can work in a week. Employers have to pay time and a half for hours over 40 in a workweek period, but there is no requirement for overtime pay on weekends, holidays , or days of rest.
Do you work at a Frito-Lay plant in Topeka or elsewhere? Email this reporter at [email protected]