Teamsters Local 727 Resumes COVID-19 Negotiations with Keurig Dr Pepper

| March 18, 2021

Nearly 5 months after their first session, Teamsters Local 727 resumed bargaining with Keurig Dr Pepper over coronavirus policies, practices, and hazard pay. The parties were scheduled to meet in December but negotiations were postponed when the company refused to let a representative for the salesmen unit sit in the negotiations. Finally, on March 16th, after the Union threatened to file yet another unfair labor practice charge, Keurig Dr Pepper agreed to meet with the Union bargaining committee, including two representatives from the salesmen unit. Shockingly, no one from the leadership teams in Northlake or Harvey were present for management. Instead, the company once again wasted money on overpriced attorney, Corey Franklin, to lead negotiations for the company. Joining Franklin was an HR rep from St. Louis and a woman who never introduced herself. To date the Company has refused to provide the Union with the amount of money the Company has spent on legal fees charged by Franklin on negotiations or unfair labor practice charges. “The legal fees must be astronomical if the Company is unwilling to provide them to the Union,” said John Coli, Jr. “It seems that the company prefers spending money on outside counsel rather than its hardworking employees and they should be ashamed.”

After the Union presented a comprehensive and full proposal which included 20% hazard pay, PPE, and paid quarantines, Union stewards shared their experiences over the last year during the worldwide health pandemic. One steward talked about his experience catching COVID-19 from the workplace—sharing not only his symptoms and fear for his family, but also the exorbitantly high cost of a COVID-19 test under the company’s new health insurance. Another steward stated that on a Saturday when no management was working, the company failed to perform any coronavirus health screenings. Franklin said that the company ended hazard pay in September because the company created a “reliable program for operating in this environment,” which included safety protocols and practices.  When members shared stories showing that the program did not do enough to mitigate the risks of coronavirus, Franklin heartlessly ignored them, and alleged that Keurig Dr Pepper had created “comprehensive safety initiatives at levels at or above CDC guidelines.” The company made it abundantly clear that nothing matters but their bottom line, and that they would do just enough to attempt to protect themselves legally and nothing more.

Adding insult to injury, Franklin acted shocked that the membership would want hazard pay or “appreciation pay”, repeatedly calling it “gratuitous” and demanding to know how more money would make members safer. “The company’s behavior shows just how far removed the company is from the frontline, essential members who make their fat paychecks possible. These members have worked 6 days a week for over a year, risking their own health and the health of their families. Practices and policies that protect their employees as much as possible should not be something the Union has to demand. But yet here we are one year later. We are still asking for masks to be provided by Keurig Dr Pepper on a daily basis,” said John Coli, Jr, Teamsters Local 727 Secretary-Treasurer. “Franklin seems to think his ‘work’ is the only work worth rewarding. When people do more, when the risks are higher, when over half a million people have died during a worldwide health pandemic, their compensation should show that. Hazard pay for our members is not gratuitous, it’s the very least Keurig Dr Pepper can do.”

After caucusing, the management team responded to the entirety of the Union’s proposal with a resounding “no.” Management did not present any counter-proposals and made it clear that Keurig Dr Pepper would not even consider the return of their “appreciation pay program.” The Union bargaining committee reminded Franklin about the outstanding information request from December and demanded to meet again. Franklin declined to provide dates and said instead he would send them under “a separate cover.”

Teamsters Local 727 will continue to demand Keurig Dr Pepper protect and pay their front-line essentials employees.

Member 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.

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