Frito-Lay workers in Topeka, Kansas, are on day 15 of a strike to end forced overtime.
Frito-Lay workers at a Topeka, Kansas production plant have been on strike since July 5. Many of the 850 unionized workers say they are forced to work more than 80 hours a week with no days off, calling extended 12-hour shifts “suicides.” In an effort to get workers back in the plant that produces Fritos, Tostitos, Doritos, Cheetos, and Funyuns, Frito-Lay said it would raise wages by 4 percent over the next two years and put a cap at 60 hours a week. However, workers are demanding an end to all forced overtime. In an interview with Vice’s Motherboard, a 59-year-old union steward named Mark McCarter who has worked for Frito-Lay for 37 years said that the Topeka warehouse doesn’t have air conditioning and by 7 a.m., it’s 100 degrees. “I can tell you that many people have had heart attacks in the heat at Frito-Lay since I’ve been here,” McCarter said. “One guy died a few years ago and the company had people pick him up, move him over to the side, and put another person in his spot without shutting the business down for two seconds. It seems like I go to one funeral a year for someone who’s had a heart attack at work or someone who went home to their barn and shot themselves in the head or hung themselves.”