Local 727 Soda Drivers Featured in NBC 5’s Secrets of the Trade

| February 12, 2019

Recognized some familiar faces on t.v. last night?

Six Teamsters Local 727 members employed as soda delivery drivers recently sat down with NBC 5 investigative journalist Chris Coffey to discuss the challenges they face each day on the job.

Dr Pepper delivery drivers Jeremy Yancey, Ray Kwasniewski, and Matt Dixon joined fellow Local 727 Brothers and Pepsi delivery drivers John Wigmore, Raul Perez, Jr., and Andre Henderson in sharing their experiences navigating Chicago’s busy streets and crowded highways.

While each driver had interesting stories to share about their work, violence on the job was a common reality experienced by all of the Teamsters.

As Yancey recalled witnessing a man being robbed at gunpoint, Henderson was reminded of an incident in which an individual attacked his truck with a crowbar.

“You have people cuss at you, swear at you.  It’s bad,” summed up Yancey.

Among the drivers’ various experiences, each was also too familiar with the extreme physical toll years of unloading, lifting, and maneuvering products in the hottest heat and slipperiest snow had on a driver’s body.  Stiff limbs, aching backs, troubling joints—no driver was able to escape the wear-and-tear of the job.

“We have guys that have been there forty years.  They can barely walk,” remarked Wigmore during the interview.

While the work is challenging, these dedicated drivers’ jobs are made all the more difficult by the heinous behavior of the callous soda giants for whom they work.

This past summer, more than 150 Local 727 drivers employed by the American Bottling Company, a subsidiary of Keurig Dr Pepper, Inc., were forced to initiate a ULP strike in protest of the unfair labor practices of their employer, including threats, attempts at intimidation, and an unwillingness to bargain in good faith with the Union.  After forty days on the picket line, the drivers ultimately won a fair contract that far exceeding the disrespectful initial offer made by Dr Pepper.

“Our members work tirelessly each and every day, rain or shine, to make sure their company’s products reach the shelves.  For Dr Pepper to completely disregard their hard work and contributions was a slap in the face to our members,” said Local 727 Secretary-Treasurer John Coli, Jr.  “And when challenges arise, Local 727 faces them together.  These drivers’ new contract is a perfect example of what can be achieved when we stand as one united Union.”

Teamsters Local 727 will begin negotiations for new collective bargaining agreements covering Inside Dr Pepper employees and all Great Lakes Coca-Cola Distribution, Inc. employees in the next few weeks.

“When we sit down to bargain over new agreements for both our Dr Pepper and Coke members, Local 727 will demand both Companies recognize the dedication and effort these Teamsters put into their work every day,” added Coli.  “Local 727 will not relent until our members receive what is fair and right.”

From left: Local 727 member John Wigmore, NBC 5 Journalist Chris Coffey, Local 727 members Ray Kwasniewski, Andre Henderson, Raul Perez, Jr., Jeremy Yancey, and Matt Dixon.

Nothing in this article should be read as the union’s waiver of any legal argument, position or additional grievance. The union does not forfeit its right to make any and all supplemental arguments.


Category: BEVERAGE, Union News

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