Employees at the Frito Lay factory in Topeka voted on Saturday to reject a draft employment contract with the company, paving the way for a strike that begins on Monday.
While workers had already voted in favor of the strike last week, negotiations between Local 218 of the Bakeries, Confectionery, Tobacco and Flour Mills union and PepsiCo, the parent company of Frito Lay, continued with the aim of come to an agreement.
The union leadership and leadership reached a two-year tentative deal this week, but about 400 of its members rejected it after two days of voting, which culminated on Saturday.
Union members criticized the company for the working conditions at the factory and pushed for a wage increase in their next deal.
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Mark Benaka, trade manager for Local 218, said the vote was “overwhelming” in his opposition to the proposed deal, which would have resulted in a 2% pay rise, as well as limits on mandatory overtime, among others.
While Benaka noted that management retracted on the overtime element after the initial opposition, he said members likely thought the salary package was not enough as they voted against the offer. .
“It was very decisive,” said Benaka. “Obviously we’re a long way off on the discretion imposed on employees over the last ten years. Basically they’re not going to take it anymore.”
Benaka said last month that this would be the first time since the union was formed in 1973 that a strike had taken place.
The workers were operating under a two-year deal that expired in September 2020 and was extended until Sunday.
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According to John Nave, executive vice president of Kansas AFL-CIO, the state’s federation of labor, a strike is the last thing workers want when negotiating union contracts. He expected donations from the community and other unions statewide as the strike date approached.
âIt’s kind of like the last line of defense,â Nave said. “And it’s a tough decision because it affects a lot, a lot of people. Union members don’t want to do that. … But when the company fails to bargain fairly at the bargaining table – and the story l ‘has shown (Frito-Lay has) repeatedly failed to do so – so there is no other alternative. “
PepsiCo’s seven divisions include Frito-Lay, one of the largest snack companies in the United States, whose Topeka plant is located at 4236 SW Kirklawn Ave. PepsiCo did not immediately return a request for comment.
Tim Hrenchir and India Yarborough of Capital-Journal contributed to this report.