Frito-Lay employees in Topeka Kansas have suffered unworkable conditions, long hours, and poor pay and began a strike on July 5. Striking employees state they have experienced 84-hour work weeks spanning over a course of 12-hour shifts seven days a week. They also claim forced overtime and unbearable working conditions, whether it be extreme heat or extreme cold to which some say employees have passed out on the job and later died due to conditions in the facility, with no break to help the injured coworker.
Frito-Lay is owned by PepsiCo and while Frito-Lay has commented on the strike occurring. According to The Washington Post, PepsiCo’s statement simply states how well their stocks and earnings have been in the last year due to the pandemic.
The Occupational Safety and Health Administration has fined the Topeka plant multiple times in the last few years and is currently investigating an incident that happened in May.
PepsiCo is the owner of a variety of snacks, chips, and drinks such as Doritos and Cheetos. While these are highly popular, many people are stepping up and supporting the workers who are striking by refusing to purchase PepsiCo products. Many workers have and are still being dehumanized by corporate PepsiCo. Many of these activists are encouraging everyone to not cross the picket line until these workers have rights.
Everyone should take a stand. These employees who are working in plants to provide the country with these snacks have been suffering. They have been suffering at the hands of this corporation that is taking advantage of their need for money. These employees have been dehumanized, forced to work through a pandemic with allegedly no extra pay or extra safety precautions, and forced to work what workers call “suicide shifts.”
Sure, it can be said that denying oneself a snack or beverage they like will not have a large enough effect to bother. It can also be said that it might not even help. However, continuing to purchase these products gives PepsiCo the reinforcement it needs to say, ‘We are still selling large amounts of product. Either you come back to work with us, or we will replace you.’ If Frito-Lay replaces their workers, they will more than likely just continue this vicious cycle of dehumanizing their workers and replacing them.
When we all stand together to support those who are being taken advantage of, we can create change. We can show PepsiCo that we will not support nor stand for this, and we expect a change before we will support them.
The striking workers deserve safe work conditions, appropriate pay, and time off. Being forced to work “suicide shifts,” which are double and triple shifts, is ridiculous and corporations need to face the consequences of their actions.