Keurig Dr Pepper Replaces Hazard Pay with Thanksgiving Turkey

| November 24, 2020

Most years, the American Bottling Company, a subsidiary of Keurig Dr Pepper, gives their employees a turkey at Thanksgiving. This year, the company is claiming it is a recognition of employees’ efforts throughout the COVID-19 crisis. After discontinuing hazard pay and trying to limit which members the Union had on its bargaining committee, Keurig Dr Pepper is rewarding their employees’ frontline, essential work with the same Thanksgiving turkey they get most years. However, in its letter to the Union, the company states that “this one-time gift is being provided in place of any previously planned local holiday celebration and shall not be a recurring event. These acts of appreciation are being done due to the extraordinary circumstances present this year and should, therefore, not be viewed as precedent setting.” In other words, members only deserve a Thanksgiving turkey during a worldwide pandemic. To add insult to injury, the letter goes on to say that any employee who is field-based will receive a one-time lump sum amount of twenty-five dollars, instead of a turkey.

When the company notified the Union that it would be discontinuing any hazard pay members were receiving because of the coronavirus crisis, the Union sent a comprehensive information request and demand to bargain. In the first meeting with the company, costly outside attorney Corey Franklin insisted that for the company to consider paying its frontline, essential employees more for risking their health and the health of their family, the Union needed to give the company more management rights. When the Union tried to meet a second time to bargain in good faith, the company violated the National Labor Relations Act by trying to limit who the Union had on its bargaining committee. Furthermore, Corey Franklin responded to the Union’s request for information sent to HR with a lengthy letter full of legal non-answers. To date, the Company has refused to provide any information about or from the third-party vendor that is responsible for their COVID-19 screenings.

“I’m not sure what KDP is trying to hide. It’s not a secret that COVID-19 is worse than ever. You don’t even have to turn on the news—just ask the employees at Keurig Dr Pepper. Our members can tell you how many of their coworkers are out sick,” said John Coli, Jr., Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 727. “It is shockingly tone deaf that KDP not only end hazard pay, but they sent the Union a letter bragging about handing out turkeys and calling it a gift. Protecting and paying your frontline, essential workers isn’t a gift. It’s the right thing to do, and we won’t stop until these corporate bullies treat our members fairly.”

While the company has made claims that they have mitigated the dangers of the coronavirus pandemic by health screenings and contact tracing, more and more Teamsters members are out sick every day. Furthermore, the Company had no nurses or health screenings over the weekend in the sales warehouse, potentially risking dozens of their employees. “I guess coronavirus is only deadly when management is in the building. It works a Monday through Friday schedule,” said Coli. “This isn’t just about hazard pay. While our members are more than due that money, Keurig Dr Pepper is clearly failing to keep them safe. Management needs to stop playing games to further their anti-Union agenda. It’s time to pay their employees for their risk and bargain consistent policies that keep Teamsters and their families safe.”

Members with questions should contact Business Representative Caleen Carter-Patton at (847) 696-7500. 

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.


Category: BEVERAGE, Union News

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