The Worst: Coke Takes Aim at Teamster Jobs
Coca-Cola has unveiled a plan to eliminate thousands of Teamster jobs by moving toward nonunion, third-party distribution.
The company is already rolling out a pilot program at 7-11 stores in Southern California. Under a deal with SoCal locals, when 7-11 stores need Coke, they will now get their drinks along with other products from a nonunion, third-party company, cutting out the Teamster drivers who used to deliver to each store. And that’s just the first step.
Our union’s Brewery and Soft Drink Conference threatened “widespread work stoppages” to stop the deal. But Hoffa caved instead. We need union action to protect Teamster jobs.
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Coke Workers to Vote on Oct. 7
The Teamsters union said workers at Coca-Cola Enterprises facilities in College Park and Marietta will vote Oct. 7 on whether to be represented by the union. It's the latest step in an organizing campaign that has stirred controversy in Coca-Cola's hometown.
"We're very close to having unionized Coca-Cola employees in Atlanta," Dave Laughton, director of the union's brewery and soft drink division, said at a Sunday afternoon rally inside the meeting hall of Teamsters Local 728 in Atlanta. "If it's good for the rest of the country, it should be good for Atlanta."
Click here to read more at the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Teamsters Union Protests Coca Cola’s Labor Practices, as Company Shutters Plants
Although they work for a company that popularized the slogan “Have a Coke and a smile,” Coca-Cola workers are doing more frowning than ever these days.
While the world’s largest beverage company has come under fire for their reported anti-union activities abroad, the company is now facing growing labor conflicts here in the United States.
Click here to read more at In These Times.
Striking worker: 'I could lose the house, everything over it'
August 30, 2010: It is an anxious weekend for hundreds of families who've now been told they no longer have medical coverage; ongoing fallout from the strike involving workers at Coca-Cola distribution centers.
The Teamsters Union says they went on strike because the company wanted to eliminate health care for retirees and make workers pay more out of pocket for benefits.
Click here to read more at the Komo News.
500 Coca-Cola workers in Washington on strike
August 24, 2010: Some 500 employees of Coca-Cola in Washington state have walked off the job and are on strike, according to a company official.
The disgruntled workers, who are members of six local chapters of the Teamsters, said the company has failed to bargain in good faith with employees, resulting in a deadlock in negotiations, which began in April. The workers have been working without a contract since May 15, when their last contract expired.
Click here to read more at Komo News.
Teamster Familes Remember Those Lost
August 6, 2010: Bryan Cirigliano was a union steward with the Teamsters, a father, a husband and brother. He was also the first person killed during the workplace shooting rampage at Connectucut's Hartford Distributors.
"I can't believe it. I really can't believe it," said his brother Mike Cirigliano. "Yesterday I saw the look on all my friends. For 35 years I worked with them. We'd always joked around. We had always had our good times. And I saw expression on their faces that broke my heart because what they were feeling and what I was feeling nobody should ever have to feel."
Click here to read more at NECN.
A Memorial Fund has been established at Teamsters Local 1035 to help members’ families recover from the tragic shootings there.
The Teamsters Union announced the establishment of the fund to raise money for the victim’s families. The International Union donated the first $50,000 to the fund.
Help Teamster families recover from the tragic shootings at a beer distribution warehouse in Hartford.
Donations should be sent to:
Teamsters Local 1035 Hartford Distributors Memorial Fund c/o Teamsters Local Union 1035 400 Chapel Road, 2-B South Windsor, Connecticut 06074
Nine people, including Local 1035 President Brian Cirigliano, were tragically killed in the workplace shooting on August 3. In all, seven union members lost their lives.
Our thoughts go out to the friends and families of the victims, Local 1035 members, and all those affected by the shooting.
Local 1035 Press Conference on the tragic shootings
Members Beat Coke in Puerto Rico
June 1, 2010: Teamster solidarity and legal action by TDU take on Coca-Cola and corrupt Teamster officials—and win.
When Local 901 members at Coca- Cola in Puerto Rico went on strike, the company retaliated and so did their own union officers. More than three dozen Teamsters were fired.
Three reform leaders, who did not even work at Coke, were expelled from the union on trumped up charges of organizing an illegal strike.
Now Teamster solidarity and legal action by TDU has beaten Coca-Cola and Teamster officials who sided with the company against the rank and file.
Strikers Win Jobs Back
More than 34 Teamsters in Puerto Rico have won their jobs back after they were illegally fired for striking to defend their union rights at Coca-Cola.
The National Labor Relations Board ruled that Coca-Cola fired the workers for participating in a strike that was “caused by the unfair labor practices of the employer.” The company has been ordered to purge all discipline and pay these Teamsters full back pay.
In a setback, the terminations of four shop stewards at Coke were upheld by the judge. A fifth steward won his job back with full back pay.
The NLRB also ordered Teamsters Local 901 to reinstate the three reform leaders who were tossed out of their union after they supported their striking brothers and sisters at Coke.
NLRB Blasts Officials
The NLRB administrative law judge blasted Local 901 officials for expelling Migdalia Magriz, Mara Quiara, and Silvia Rivera “because they comprised a slate of candidates that opposed the slate favored by Local 901” in the last union election.
Local 901 was ordered to immediately rescind $10,000 fines levied against the reform candidates and to “reinstate them to full membership in the Union including their Shop Steward positions.”
In a related case, the Department of Labor is suing Local 901 officials for rigging the local union election in their favor. The DOL is seeking a supervised rerun election.
The decision is an embarrassment to the Hoffa administration, which refused to issue a stay of effectiveness on the expulsions while they were being appealed. When the NLRB delivers Teamsters more justice than we get from our own union, there’s a problem.
The members in the case are represented by attorneys Linda Backiel of Puerto Rico and TDU legal counsel Barbara Harvey. In a move to delay justice, Coke and Local 901 leaders filed a joint motion to the NLRB asking for more time to file an appeal.
Coke Plan Threatens Thousands of Jobs
May 28, 2010: Coca-Cola executives have a plan to eliminate thousands of Teamster delivery jobs.
What is our union’s plan to fight back?
Coke wants to eliminate Teamster jobs by moving toward nonunion, third-party distribution.
The Hoffa administration vowed to draw the line against this “Alternative Distribution” by defeating the company’s pilot program in Southern California—if necessary, through nationally coordinated strike action.
But one month after this tough talk, our union caved in without a fight.
With the IBT’s blessing, four locals have inked a deal that gives Coke the green light to use a non-union, third-party logistics company to do Teamster deliveries.
According to the IBT’s own estimates, the new deal could eliminate hundreds of Teamster jobs Thousands more Teamster drivers could lose their jobs if Coke is allowed to spread their Alternative Distribution across the country.
The SoCal deal also freezes Teamster wages in the first year and delivered a laundry list of benefit givebacks. Member’s out-of-pocket healthcare will more than double—topping out at $135 a month for family coverage by the end of the contract. Retiree healthcare is eliminated altogether for new Teamsters.
How did this sellout happen?
The Threat to Teamster Jobs
In April, the Hoffa administration called an emergency meeting in Las Vegas of all the locals in the Brewery and Soft Drink Conference.
Local officers flew in from around the country to get briefed on the threat posed by Coke’s Alternative Distribution pilot program—and to hear about the union’s action plan for defeating it.
Coke’s new business model is a threat to Teamster jobs nationwide. The company wants to start servicing large accounts through third-party warehouses and distributors instead of Coke Teamsters doing store delivery.
In Southern California, Coke proposed a “pilot program” starting with 7-11 stores. Teamster drivers would deliver trailers to a warehouse. From there, a third-party logistics company would take over warehousing and distribution.
When 7-11 stores need Coke, they’d get the drinks along with other products from the nonunion, third-party company—cutting out the Teamster drivers who currently deliver to each store.
In April, the IBT said the new system was a threat to Teamster jobs nationwide. They told local unions to be prepared for nationally coordinated strike action to draw a line against the new system.
The IBT warned investors of “widespread work stoppages and service disruptions, first in California and then possibly in other key markets.”
It was all empty talk. The union caved without a fight. The new contract covering Coke Teamsters in Locals 848, 896, 952 and 986 allows the company to implement its pilot program at 7-11—and to expand its Alternative Distribution to other customers.
Before Alternative Distribution can be implemented beyond 7-11, the company has to meet with the local unions in Southern California. And these locals have the right to strike if the company implements the new system without the union’s agreement.
But at that point, members would be striking to stop a system that the company has already implemented—instead of stopping this union-busting, job-killing system before it starts.
The International Union’s original plan to stop Alternative Distribution at Coke was an aggressive and well-thought out response to a serious attack on Teamster jobs. But it was all talk.
Teamster members need to demand that our leaders get serious about addressing this threat.
Coke is after much more than a pilot program—and both the company and our union know it.
Coca-Cola Co. is in the process of acquiring the North American operations of Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE), the formerly separate bottling and distribution company that employs Teamsters.
The company’s goal is to save $350 million in operating costs—including eliminating Teamster delivery jobs.
After the merger with CCE, half of Coke’s revenue will come from North America. Our union represents 15,000 members who produce and distribute this product. That gives our union leverage to protect good Teamster jobs—but only if we use it.
Is Pepsi Next?
Just like Coca Cola Co., Pepsi has moved to acquire its bottling operations.
In February of this year, Pepsi opened a new subsidiary, Pepsi Beverages Co, after buying its two largest bottlers, PepsiAmericas and Pepsi Bottling Group.
If Coke is allowed to expand its nonunion Alternative Distribution, Pepsi is going to demand the same concession under the guise of “staying competitive.”
Time to Fight Back
The Teamsters represent workers at Coke and Pepsi across North America.
We need a real nationally coordinated plan to protect Teamster jobs in the industry—not tough-talk and backroom sellouts.
Teamsters for a Democratic Union brings members together to defend our industry standards, contracts and benefits.
Are you a Coke or Pepsi Teamster concerned about your future? Do you want to network with other concerned stewards and members in your industry? Click here to contact TDU today.
Local 896 Merger on Hold
March 2, 2009: A proposed merger of California Local 896 that would have threatened that local’s proud history of winning strong contracts is now on hold.
The news comes just as the Committee to Save Local 896 was preparing their next action. Members spoke up to save their local and made it happen.
For months, Local 896 officials were deep in talks with Local 848 head Jim Santangelo about merging the two locals.
But now the merger has been abruptly put on hold. At the February union meeting, Local Secretary-Treasurer Rene Medrano reversed himself and announced that all merger talks with Local 848 were over—and no merger was in the works.
Local 896 is based in Los Angeles and represents 3,000 brewery and soft-drink workers across California.
When the merger was proposed in December, Medrano brought Santangelo to the L.A. Anheuser-Busch brewery to sell the deal. Santangelo was back at the January Local 896 meeting—and faced tough questions from Local 896 members.
At the Local 896 meeting on Feb. 22., Medrano didn’t mention the merger even once in his half hour long report.
Medrano only admitted that the merger had fallen through after a member asked him point-blank about it. He appeared to have no intention of discussing the merger until he was asked.
Medrano explained that if the merger went through, employees of the local would go into an inferior health and welfare plan—a pretty weak excuse.
Meanwhile, at the Local 848 meeting on the same day, Santangelo refused to admit defeat and said that he still hoped the merger would go through.
Power of Information
As soon as they heard the rumor of a possible merger, Local 896 Teamsters sprang into action and formed the Committee to Save Local 896.
Members at Coke and Pepsi had bargained side-by-side with Santangelo before—and saw him negotiate inferior contracts in their industry.
The committee produced educational bulletins that explained to members what they could expect in a local headed by Santangelo.
They let members hear from Local 848 members. They circulated information from the Independent Review Board and Election Officer that showed Santangelo made an illegal loan to himself and intimidated members who disagreed with him.
The Local 896 members made it clear that they were going to have a voice in this merger—and they are going to stay prepared to spring into action if any future discussions take place.
The Local 896 members who worked so hard to keep their local proud and independent are a good example of what members can do when they get informed and get organized.
Members Turn Out to Save Local 896
January 30, 2009: James Santangelo came to the Local 896 meeting trying to sell a merger with his own local, but his sales pitch fell flat.
Local 896 represents 3,000 brewery and soft drink Teamsters in southern California. Jim Santangelo is trying to swallow the local into his own Local 848.
Santangelo is also the head of Joint Council 42 and a Teamster International VP. But Local 896 members weren’t intimidated.
They showed up in force to hear from both sides and make their voices heard—and they did.
Click here to download a bulletin from the Committee to Save Local 896.
A Democratic Vote?
Any merger would have to be approved by a vote of the members of Local 896.
But at the meeting, Santangelo said that just members who came to a union meeting should get to vote on a merger. He called that “the democratic way.”
Members in the audience insisted that if there was going to be a vote, every member should get a ballot in the mail.
Members raised a motion to have a mail ballot election, but the chair ignored their motion—not a good sign for how “democratic” a vote on a merger would be at a union meeting.
Soft drink Teamsters in Local 896 have seen Santangelo’s weak record at the bargaining table first-hand, and they made their opposition loud and clear during the soft drink branch meeting.
In 2003 and 2005, the two locals bargained side by side for contracts with Pepsi and Coke. Each time, Local 848 settled for a weaker contract.
Santangelo left the meeting early, visibly upset, according to Local 896 members present.
Concerned members have formed the Committee to Save Local 896 to stop the merger. Click here to download the flyer they are distributing.
What do you think? Click here to share your comment or question with Teamsters for a Democratic Union.
Local 896 Members Fight Merger
January 10, 2009: Local 848 Secretary-Treasurer Jim Santangelo is pushing to absorb Local 896, the California brewery and soft drink local.
But Local 896 members are fighting to keep their local proud and independent.
Local 896 Secretary-Treasurer Rene Medrano supports the merger, and he says the local will be stronger as a part of Local 848.
But members are skeptical. In 2003 and 2005, the two locals bargained together for contracts with Pepsi and Coke. In both contracts, Local 848 settled short for a weaker contract than Local 896 won.
“Local 896 has a long history of winning good contracts,” said Bill Booth, a retired member of Local 896.
“Why should we merge with a local that doesn’t have the same tradition of winning strong contracts in the brewing and bottling industries?” Booth is the former chief brewing steward at the Anheuser-Busch brewery in Los Angeles.
Supporters of the merger say that without the merger, Local 896 will go broke. But that isn’t true.
Local 896 has assets of $4.7 million. Local 848 has twice as many members, but only $5.2 million in assets.
Last year, Santangelo was the seventh highest-paid Teamster official—with three salaries and a total compensation of $309,437.
The highest paid official of Local 896, on the other hand, made total compensation of just $103,626 in 2008.
Local 848 principal officer Jim Santangelo has a history of using intimidation to get his way in Teamster politics.
During the 2006 campaign for Teamster general president, Santangelo told one member who didn’t support him: “You don’t even know what I am going to do to you. I am going to f*** you up.” The Teamster Election Supervisor found that Santangelo used threats of violence to silence his opponents (2006 ESD 392, Dec. 20, 2006).
“I know Jim Santangelo is willing to lie and threaten to get his way—I’ve experienced it firsthand myself,” said Howard Palmer, a Local 848 driver at Vons. “Local 896 members should get to know the real Jim Santangelo before they give up their local.”
Concerned members have formed the Committee to Save Local 896 to work together to stop the merger.
Members have distributed leaflets debunking myths about the merger and calling for a secret ballot election if the merger goes to a vote.
The Teamster Constitution guarantees members the right to vote on a merger. It’s up to the local to say how that vote will be run.
“I want the best possible outcome for the members,” said Booth.
“This merger is a bad idea. But if it does go to a vote, we need to make sure that it’s a totally secret ballot so that there’s no intimidation and members have confidence in the outcome.”
What do you think? Click here to send your comments to Teamsters for a Democratic Union.