Hundreds of Dominican Food Workers Win Union

  • June 6, 2016
  • Geoff Herzog

More than half of the workers at the eight Frito Lay worksites in the Dominican Republic who sought a voice on the job received official verification of their new union in recent days, culminating a process that began in April.

When the 621 sales, distribution and production workers joined the National Union of Workers of Dominican Frito Lay (SINTRALAYDO), their efforts were delayed by factory management, which questioned the eligibility status of dozens of workers.

Achieving union recognition by the international snack food company involved “all of the local union leaders” who “could recognize members missing from the company’s list and prove they worked there, preventing the company’s attempt to disqualify them from the count,” says SINTRALAYDO Secretary General Ramon Mosquea, a former Solidarity Center-supported labor educator.

Frito Lay Workers Persist over Years to Win Contract

The workers overcame huge obstacles to win a union. After they sought to achieve majority recognition for a union at the company in 2012, management derailed the process by presenting a list of hundreds of workers the union understood were sub-contracted, thereby reducing support for the union to less than 50 percent, according to SINTRALAYDO leaders. Dominican law requires that more than 50 percent of eligible workers support a union at a worksite before it can be officially recognized.

Since then, the company fired more than 500 SINTRALAYDO members, but workers persisted, joining with the union to recruit supporters, develop greater leadership among its executive committee and engage management in ongoing dialogue to resolve worksite problems, says Mosquea.

“As a union we need to acknowledge the importance national and international solidarity played in getting us to this stage,” he says. “I especially need to recognize the trainings, organizing support and ongoing accompaniment from the Solidarity Center. It played a fundamental role in our getting to this next stage, when we enter into collective bargaining.”