Great Lakes Coca-Cola Withholds Information From the Union Leading the Union to Ask What GLCC Has to Hide

| July 21, 2020

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit the Chicagoland area in March, Teamsters Local 727 frontline, essential workers answered the call to serve the city. While many people worked from home to help stop the spread of coronavirus, Local 727 members in the soda industry worked overtime to produce and deliver water and other beverages throughout the city—exposing themselves and their families to greater risk. While all three soda giants initially gave their members “hazard pay” for their hard work and sacrifices, Great Lakes Coca Cola ended hazard pay after only a month with no notice to the Union. To add insult to injury, shortly after eliminating the hazard pay, the Company, in violation of the CBA and NLRA, laid off dozens of Teamsters members claiming a “reduction in volume.”

When notified about the potential lay-offs, the Union quickly contacted the Company and demanded bargaining. As some members had underlying health conditions or had family members that were at a greater risk of having a severe response to COVID, and potentially dying from COVID-19, the Union believed it made logical sense to solicit volunteers for the lay-offs—allowing those who wanted to be home an opportunity to be laid off. After agreeing to let the Union speak to members about the possibility of volunteers, management abruptly gave notice to dozens of members that they would be laid off. The Union immediately sent an information request, filed a grievance and unfair labor practice charge contesting the Company’s actions. It has been over three months since the Union’s request and the Company has yet to respond to the information request in it’s entirety. As the Company claimed a reduction in volume and business caused the lay-off, the Union appropriately asked for documentation that would support the need for lay-offs. The Union is still waiting for that documentation to be provided. An unfair labor practice charge is still pending with Region 13 of the NLRB over the company’s refusal to provide information.

In a series of meetings, Union representatives discovered that at least some, if not all, of the lay-offs violated the CBA. In some cases, proper notice wasn’t given. In other instances, the Company laid off the wrong people: violating seniority by classification and department. While the Company has admitted to violating the contract, they still, shockingly, denied the grievance. The Union has filed the grievance for arbitration. Furthermore, when the Union asked the Company for potential return dates for those members still laid off, they claimed they could not give one because of a downturn in business. This is especially shocking given the fact that Pepsi and Keurig Dr Pepper have had a boom in both volume and hiring—business is better than ever. When Union representatives expressed concern about this to GLCCD, management stayed silent.

“I don’t think any of us our surprised by GLCC’s bad behavior and ignorance anymore,” said John Coli, Jr, Teamsters Local 727 Secretary-Treasurer. “Every single day, we are filing grievances against them, and unfair labor practice charges seem to be a weekly occurrence at this point. What is shocking is that GLCC is claiming they are failing in the Chicagoland market compared to their competitors but won’t produce any documentation to back their allegations up. At this point, GLCC seems to be admitting that they are  ‘just bad at the soda business.’ There is no reason for lay-offs—both Keurig Dr Pepper and Pepsi have shown that. Either GLCC is doing something wrong, or they’re lying and there wasn’t a need for lay-offs. They should be ashamed about how they’ve treated their frontline, essential workers during this worldwide health crisis.”

Members with questions should reach out to Business Agent Caleen Carter-Patton at (847) 696-7500 or [email protected]

Nothing in this article should be read as the union’s waiver of any legal argument, position or grievance(s), or as a waiver of any rights, arguments, or defenses under any contract, collective bargaining agreement, or applicable law. The union does not forfeit its right to make any and all supplemental arguments.

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Category: BEVERAGE

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