A Voice from Topeka

July 20, 2021

What's behind the Frito-Lay strike.

This is going to be one of those “read this” blog posts, because sometimes you read something so moving, and so outrageous, that your best bet is just to refer people to it and get out of the way.

This is a first-person account at Vice.com from a worker (and union steward) at the Frito-Lay snack processing plant in Topeka, Kansas. Workers there have been on strike since last week, seeking, above all, an end to mandatory overtime.

In the piece, “I'm a Frito-Lay Factory Worker. I Work 12-Hour Days, 7 Days a Week,” Mark McCarter, a palletizer operator who has worked at the Topeka plant for 37 years, talks about the conditions that led to the strike.

You come in at 7 a.m. and not only do you work eight hours, but when you get off at 3 p.m., they suicide (force you to work a double shift) you and have you come back at 3am. There's 850 employees and it's true for half or three quarters of them... [A] lot of these guys come in with the understanding that they'll be here for eight hours but then they got to call their wives and kids and say, "Guess what? It's not eight hours. It's 12 hours and then I have to go back to work at 3am."

Please read the whole thing. It’ll cast the industry’s labor problems in a whole new light.

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