Frito-Lay Seeks Scabs as Kansas Labor Launches Boycott – Fort Lee Barbers Strike – USC Nurses to Strike

As Frito Lay brings in scabs, Kansas labor activists launch a boycott. (BCTGM)

By Mike Elk 

Greetings from the Burgh, where today’s rain has finally ended yet another week of “unhealthy” air warnings here. 

Frito Lay Seeks Scab Workers as Kansas Labor Launches Boycott 

With more than 500 Frito Lay workers on strike since Monday in Topeka, Kansas, the company has now begun to advertise that they’ll hire scabs to replace workers out on strike. 

“Frito-Lay will be focused on continuing to run the operations of our plant in Topeka and has a contingency plan in place to ensure employee safety,” the company said in a statement to KSNT. “We will continue to be attentive to the situation and welcome any employees who wish to continue to work as they are legally entitled to do so.” 

(Note: Given the difficulty low-wage employers are currently facing in hiring workers at all, it’ll be interesting to see how many scabs Frito-Lay will be able to hire to cross a contentious picket line.)

In response to Frito-Lay, local unions in Kansas have called for a boycott of PepsiCo Products (who owns Frito-Lay) until the strike is settled. From the Wichita Eagle: 

Monica Marks, a Wichita resident, took a list of Frito-Lay and PepsiCo brands with her to the grocery store this week. She said she hopes that if more consumers avoid the company’s products, it will impact Frito-Lay and convince it to negotiate a better contract with the union.

“If we can avoid it, even with some adjustments, we won’t cross a picket line,” Marks said. “It’s not difficult to just buy a different brand of chips and soda.”

For more on the growing boycott movement in Kansas, check out The Wichita Eagle. 

Barbers at Fort Lee Go On Strike 

At Fort Lee military base in Virginia, over 20 barbers employed as contractors at the base have gone on strike this week over changes in their pay structure, resulting in some barbers making $1,000 less a month. 

The Roanoke Times has the story

“I love my job and I love cutting hair at Fort Lee. I wanted to stay until I retire,” [barber Mike] Kates said. “When I got there 15 years ago, there were other people who had been there for 20 or 30 years. It’s not like people come and go. Once you’re there, you’re there. I don’t want to have to leave.”

When Sheffield Barbers first took over, employees were earning 55% of the per haircut fee of $12.15. According to the barbers’ union representative, Sheffield reduced that fee to 55% of $11.25, the haircut price charged in 2017. That means stylists are seeing almost one dollar less profit per haircut.

Since taking over, Sheffield has increased the price per haircut to $13. Kates says he is still earning 55% on a per cut price of $11.25 and that all of the profit is going toward the contractor.

For more, check out The Roanoke Times. 

USC Nurses to Go on Strike 

This July 13 and 14, nurses at Keck Hospital of USC and USC Norris Cancer Hospital in Los Angeles, California are slated to go on strike. 

“Cancer patients need safe staffing and specialized care,” said Michael Simonton, RN in the Intensive Care Unit at USC Norris Cancer Hospital. “USC claims they have no problems hiring nurses, so I have to ask myself why our hospital is chronically short-staffed.”

For more, check out the website of the National Nurses United. 

News Happening Elsewhere 

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See yinz. Have a good weekend. 

Love & Solidarity, 


About the Author

Mike Elk
Mike Elk is an Emmy-nominated labor reporter and alumni of the Guardian. In addition to filing nearly 2,000 stories from 46 states, Elk traveled with Lula from Sáo Bernando do Campos all the way to the Oval Office in the White House. Credited by the Washington Post for being the first reporter to track the strike wave systematically, Elk started Payday Report using his NLRB settlement from being illegally fired for union organizing in 2015. He lives in his hometown of Pittsburgh and works frequently in Rio de Janeiro, where he attended college at PUC-Rio. He speaks both Portuguese and Pittsburghese fluently. His email is [email protected]

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