TOPEKA, Kan. (KSNT) – After more than two weeks of striking, union members in Topeka said Wednesday evening they made a tentative agreement with Frito-Lay.
Union members will need to vote to ratify the negotiated deal. Stagnant wages and mandatory overtime have been the hot-button issues workers wanted to see addressed.
“Close, I think we’re close. Some things are easier to resolve than others,” Brad Schmidt, vice president for the Midwest region of the Bread, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers, and Grain Millers Union, previously told KSNT News. “The overtime issue, we’ve finally gotten some traction on that. I think we’ve got a good chance of getting some of that stuff resolved.”
Workers have been on strike from the plant for 17 days as of Wednesday. Frito-Lay first agreed to meet with the union on Monday to work out a new contract between the company and the union.
The Frito-Lay workers who are members of the BCTGM Local 218 Union first went on strike July 5 after voting against an initial agreement with the Topeka plant. The new Wednesday evening deal details haven’t been released, but the previously struck-down deal would have limited the amount of forced overtime per week, which some members said has been a problem for years. It also presented a 2% annual raise for two years.
Over 400 members voted on that first deal, and the overwhelming majority decided against it. During the course of the strike that followed, Frito-Lay posted job openings to make up for missing workers, and a local grocery store noted a shortage in shipments of their products.
“They’re not bringing in as much as they used to,” Seabrook Apple Market Store Manager Terry Fleer said. “They say it’s only going to be those core brands coming in.”
Union leaders said they plan to hold a vote on the new deal Friday.
“Our members are the ones who vote in the process,” Jason Davis, an International Representative for BCTGM, said. “Everything we do is for our members and on behalf of our members, so at the end of the day, it’s the member’s decision as to what is good enough for them.”
Union Steward Mark McCarter said workers would keep striking through to the voting date.