The Teamsters Local 727 Bargaining Committee and Coca-Cola Refreshments met for more than 14 hours on Nov. 30 to try to come to terms on a new contract.
After bargaining late into the night and early morning hours, both sides have returned to the table on Tuesday, Dec. 1 for what is expected to be another marathon session of negotiations.
Coca-Cola Teamsters overwhelmingly voted on Sunday to authorize an unfair labor practice strike should management fail to bargain in good faith. The current contract extension expires at midnight on Tuesday.
In an effort to finally make movement, Coca-Cola introduced a new corporate labor relations director to its own bargaining committee, who began addressing several outstanding proposals. When negotiations drew to a close on Monday, the union and the company reached tentative agreement on a few non-economics, including:
• Protection for all members under the Teamsters’ powerful grievance procedure
• Preservation of weekly payroll
• Ability to use one week of vacation in daily increments for all workers
• Addition of stepparents to members’ bereavement leave benefits
“While we were able to reach agreement on a couple minor elements, we’re still worlds apart on issues that truly matter,” said John Coli Jr., President of Local 727. “The union has bargained in good faith throughout this process and the company needs to do the same and stop wasting time. With the clock running out, Coca-Cola has to make more movement before agreement on a fair contract can be possible.”
Rank-and-file members on the Bargaining Committee repeatedly demanded respect across the table on Monday. Members were not guarded in their criticism of Coca-Cola to change its tune in these final hours.
“As employees, we represent Coca-Cola on the frontlines, but how are we supposed to take pride in our work when we feel so disrespected by the company?” said Local 727 member James Drayton.
“Coca-Cola says it wants the best from workers, but the company won’t put forth the best when it comes to treatment of its own employees,” added member James Shears, who’s worked for Coca-Cola for nearly 50 years.
Members will be updated throughout the day on Tuesday as negotiations continue. Anyone with questions should contact agent Aisha Hurston at (847) 696-7500 or by email at [email protected].