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Frito Lay Union disputes continue with more pickets outside the plant



TOPEKA, Kan. – Union workers at Topeka’s Frito Lay plant continue contract negotiations with the company after mediation meetings at the end of March didn’t settle disputes.

“It’s built up. I don’t know if I want to Call it resentment but it’s kind of like resentment,” said Brent Hall is the President of the Local 218 Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers (BCTGM) union, which represents 800 of Frito-Lay’s 1100 employees.

The union and Frito Lay met with a federal mediator at the end of March to discuss work conditions, benefits and increased pay. Hall said they made no real headway, and he felt like it was a slap in the face for the people he represents. The latest disputes go back to September.

He said they made some progress in their latest meeting with the company hiring 75 more workers through a job fair.

“We do understand we need people because we are in there working ourselves to the bone and we need people to come in here to put in a good eight hours so we don’t have to work 12 hours days every day of the week,” he said.

But the pay was still not increased.

“Didn’t really move on the economics at all. Just kind of took what they had and kind of spread it over three years and we didn’t have much in the beginning so when you spread it over three years it was really like a slap in the face.”

Pepsi-Co reported first-quarter earnings for the three months of 2021 was at $1.21 per share, up 13-percent from the same period last year. He claims the working conditions continue to be less than appropriate — despite Pepsi being able to afford changes with their first quarter revenue topping $14.82 billion.

“So it’s like they do better than expected but they don’t expect to give us any more you know and it’s a slap in the face and like I said it’s a slap in the face of these people you know they’re out here work through COVID, work through the freeze, and the big thanks was an email to the plant manager.”

With the support they are receiving with their decision to stand outside as drivers honk their cars, they’ll continue to fight for the changes they want.

“It’s not an office job you know you’re going to sweat it out and may only the strong survive you know.”

A spokesperson for Frito Lay told us — “Frito-Lay remains committed to continuing constructive dialogue and reaching a mutual agreement soon. Both parties have agreed to continue mediation, which is set to start May 3.”

Hall told me historically Frito Lay has not moved on the economic side of their argument, but has a feeling they’re going to after their upcoming talks.

“To these people that haven’t seen a raise or a decent raise in a decade and they got a slap in the face and a lot of the feedback I got from the membership was, ‘what do they think we’re stupid?’”