All That and a Bag of Chips?

Photo by GR Stocks on Unsplash

In this article by, a true horror story unfolds about working conditions in a Topeka, Kansas Frito-Lay factory. Around 600 union employees went on strike last week in response to nine months of failed negotiations with the company. What issues, might you ask, are they protesting?

  • Mandatory overtime: employees worked up to 84 hours a week, sometimes with only eight hours between shifts
  • Stagnant pay: rate of pay for long-term employees has barely risen in a decade, although the cost of living has risen quite a bit
  • Death on the line (literally!): when an employee working on the line died, they moved the body, assigned a different employee to that spot, and kept the line moving

I think labor unions are appropriate in some industries and situations in the U.S. and not in others. In most industries, labor laws *should* provide sufficient protection for workers (but should be reviewed and updated often!), and I generally support workers negotiating their own terms with employers. But this seems like a case when repeated abuses merit a banding-together to solve the multiple issues at hand.

I’m curious how this will play out; the strike has now entered its second week. As our family definitely consumes Frito-Lay fare, I wonder how this will affect consumers, too. Strikes are not new, and union/corporation labor relations are often tricky. But I think most people will agree that the working conditions quoted in the article are ridiculous and need to be fixed before employees are ready to resume work.