Teamsters Local 175 members at Coca-Cola Bottling Company Consolidated (CCBCC) in Charleston and Logan unanimously authorized a strike this afternoon to protest the Company’s failure to negotiate a fair contract. The contract which covers approximately 100 employees expires at midnight on Tuesday. The parties met for nine days of negotiations but unfortunately a substantial amount of that time was spent trying to reach an agreement that the company would actually abide by written settlement agreements reached with the union. That discussion resulted from the fact that the union has had to process numerous grievances to a grievance committee made up of a neutral group of employers and unions who have no direct relationship with the parties contract. Although the company did agree to include in the contract language wherein the company would abide by any settlements, they immediately reneged on anotheragreement regarding retiree health insurance for their employees.
Aside from economics, a major stumbling block in the negotiations is the company’s decision to eliminate work performed by their own employees and transfer that work to non-union work to outside companies. In one of those cases, the company committed to cease and desist from transferring the work until an agreement can be reached with the union. At the same time the company committed to the union in negotiations that they had ceased this practice pending negotiations, the union learned that the company was promoting this transfer of work on their company website. Incredibly, the company’s negotiating team knew nothing about it and agreed that it was inconsistent with what they had told us.
The company, without discussion from the union, has entered into an agreement with Sheetz convenience stores which will result in the company eliminating that work being performed by its union employees and rather delivering the product from an out of state location directly to warehouses owned by Sheetz. Sheetz would then distribute that product to their stores.
“The manner in which they treat their employees is disgusting” said Ken Hall, President Teamsters Local 175. “The company wants to eliminate work for its own employees which is the opposite of what their competitors are doing in the state of WV who want all of the work to be handled by their own employees. Perhaps that is why their competitors sell more product in WV than Coca-Cola. In terms of their deal with Sheetz, I am surprised that Sheetz has entered into that agreement with Coke given the fact that the majority of their business consists of working people and in areas such as Morgantown the majority of their business is college students. The one thing that is certain is that West Virginian’s do not support nor appreciate out of state companies who come to WV to destroy jobs. Coke should be aware of this, given that in 2000 when Coke forced a strike at their then Huntington, WV facility, they lost substantial amounts of business in WV. During that strike the company could have settled the Huntington contract for less than $50,000, instead spent over $3 million dollars during the strike in addition to firing the CEO of the company within two months of the conclusion of the strike,” Hall continued.
The Union also represents Coca-Cola employees in Bluefield, Clarksburg and Parkersburg.
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