"We Are Screwed": Frito-Lay and Union Reach Contract Agreement, But Big Issues Remain

The contract agreement slightly curtails mandatory overtime and allows—with exceptions—for one day off a week

When workers at the Frito-Lay plant in Topeka, Kansas began their strike earlier this month, they hoped to put an end to mandatory overtime, seven-day-a-week schedules, and poor conditions. 

On Friday, they approved a new contract with the company that slightly curtails the overtime and allows—with exceptions—for one day off a week. 

"We are screwed," one Frito-Lay staffer told me in a text message minutes after the vote was announced. 

Hey all, it's Eoin Higgins from The Flashpoint. I reported on the strike last week, interviewing workers on the front lines, raising the alarm about a Covid outbreak at the plant, and revealing details of the contract—as well as publishing exclusive photos showing the conditions inside the facility. 

The new contract's language allows workers one day off a week and ends the practice of "suicide shifts," where there's only an eight hour window between 12-hour shifts. But the deal leaves open the possibility of all six days being 12-hour workdays, and if the mandatory overtime is refused the day off is forfeit. 

“They can and will punish you for taking a vacation day, funeral day, or floating holiday by saying that that is a day off in which they can force you for your weekend,” a plant worker told me.

I'm in touch with workers at the plant and will have updates on conditions there soon. In the meantime, subscribe to The Flashpoint to follow other worker rights stories. This week, a guest post from Discourse Blog on the MSNBC union push and a look at anti-vaxxers working with children at summer camps. 

Okay, here’s the rest of the team.

Welcome to Hell World

Luke O’Neil

This past week Hell World was about anti-vaxxers and climate change and billionaires in space and was just all around a huge fucking bummer of a post to read as best as I can tell. Enjoy (?)

Being brief today because I’m in Maine for my annual pilgrimage to look at my heroes the Bush family compound. Previously while here I wrote about getting caught trying to piss on a Bush plaque overlooking their home and Jenny Lewis and some devastating fires up here in 1947:

After all was said and done over one thousand homes and cottages in Maine were burned to the ground and 250,000 acres were burned and nine towns were burned according to the New England Historical Society and what they called it was The Year Maine Burned which sounds like a great title for a local metal and punk compilation.

And before that I wrote about the Ronco Showtime Rotisserie & BBQ and Willie Horton and Lee Atwater and H.W. Bush entrapping a petty drug dealer into selling near the White House.

Another thing Bush did when he was president was to engineer a drug bust in Lafayette Park across from the White House to illustrate a politically expedient point about the war on drugs. He held up a bag of crack and said it had been seized just outside the White House can you believe this shit? but it had actually been purchased in a sting.

William McMullan, one of the special agents on the job told the Washington Post that it “was not easy to get the dealer [Keith Jackson] to come to Lafayette Park because he did not even know where the White House was.”

“I don't think any neighborhood is free from selling drugs,” Bush said in a testy exchange with reporters on a tree farm near his home in Kennebunkport, Maine after the stunt. “I mean, the man was caught selling drugs in front of the White House. I think it can happen in any neighborhood, and I think that's what it dramatized.”

“I don't understand. I mean, has somebody got some advocates here for this drug guy?” he snapped at the reporters. “I cannot feel sorry for him. I’m sorry, they ought not to be peddling these insidious drugs that ruin the children of this country,” he said.    

Ok bye gonna go swimming now. If it makes you feel any better I’m not really having fun and feel miserable despite the lovely view.


Gaby Del Valle & Felipe De La Hoz

Conservative grandstanding about “cracking down” on “illegal immigration” is nothing new. For decades, nativists have tried to do everything from banning undocumented children from attending public schools (it didn’t work) to requiring anyone who’s just not American looking enough (i.e., anyone who looks vaguely brownish) to prove their immigration status at the drop of a hat or risk being arrested, even if they’re not violating any immigration laws. Local and state governments’ attempts to appear “tough on immigration” are typically dogwhistles, but they’re also more than that: in many cases, these attempts at proving their conservative bona fides are actually materially damaging to immigrants, undocumented or not.

Which leads us to Operation Lone Star, the Texas government’s attempt to arrest migrants apprehended at the border, even though state governments can’t enforce federal immigration laws. To get around this, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has sent around a quarter of the state police force to the southern border, where they’ve been tasked with arresting suspected migrants for trespassing and criminal mischief. They even emptied out part of a state prison to house the people they arrest. As of last week, just three migrants had been arrested on these charges, but authorities said they expect to ramp up arrests to as many as 100 per day pretty soon.

In the latest edition of the newsletter (which, unlike usual times, was written just by Gaby because Felipe has Covid; go get tested if you feel like you have a cold!!), we explained how Operation Lone Star is a reaction to a misunderstanding—or better yet, willful ignorance—of what’s happening at the border right now, and how it could affect migrants’ potential cases.

We were also on the latest episode of El hilo, where we discussed Biden’s first six months in office. If you want to hear us talk about all of this in Spanish for once, check it out!

Wars of Future Past

Kelsey D. Atherton

The wars of the 21st century are already fought with the detritus of the 20th. Mass production of rifles and, most importantly, ammunition means that the lifespan of a small arm can once again extend centuries. This is a sort of reversion to historical norm, where specific manufactures changed but overall weapon forms remained the same for centuries.

The traits that make a durable small arm lend it to longevity: mass availability of spare parts, the ease of repair by a single person, and simplicity of form. The AK family series has yet to hit a century in active use, but no one doubts that it will. What is novel, now, is that the century mark for certain aircraft is within sight, as bombers built for nuclear war find decades of use in much smaller conflicts. This week's Wars of Future Past is about weapon longevity, the long afterlives of tools built to kill.

Discourse Blog

Hi everyone, Crosbie here from Discourse Blog. The prevailing story last week was the billionaire space race, a particularly infuriating and pointless endeavor for anyone who generally wants rich people to pay more in taxes and less toward vanity rocket projects. 

Jack Mirkinson broke down the softest, most simpering media interviews of these monsters, while Sam Grasso wrapped up the dumbest reactions to the big launch online. Meanwhile, I did a blog about how Bezos’s ego tour of the Karman line barely even counts as “going to space.” Laika did that shit decades ago. Rafi and Paul, meanwhile, got to branch out a bit: Rafi wrote a fun reaction to Poland’s incredibly funny swim-team mix-up at the dumbest Olympics since the last Olympics, and Paul covered the slightly-less-funny but perhaps more vital need to cancel medical debt. Once again, our blogs: all over the place. That’s the Discourse Blog promise baby: we’ll blog about anything, and we’ll always be right (see also: Sam’s piece on abolishing ICE and CBP, my take on the death penalty). 

We also had two great content swaps with Discontents folks: this excerpt from Hell World, a wrenching guest essay by Mary Stathos about the desperate fight Tenants’ Unions wage every day, and Eoin Higgins’s new reporting on the anti-trans movement’s increasing violence

See ya next week!

The Insurgents

Rob Rousseau and Jordan Uhl

This week, after a brief tour of Langley's political streaming division, we were joined by Twitch personality Lucid Foxx. We talked about the pretend billionaire space race and the way people like Jeff Bezos and Richard Branson are using the inspiring rhetoric of the 60s to push for what is essentially a billionaire amusement park ride (or the early steps to an eventual asteroid mining monopoly).

We also talked about the astroturfed #SOSCuba campaign and how we should be able to recognize a regime change operation when we see one, liberals opposing "authoritarianism", the Delta variant and the way right wing media seems to have possibly turned a corner on vaccine denialism, and more.