SOUTH CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) – Nearly 100 unionized Coca-Cola employees based in Charleston and Logan are set to go on strike after voting against a new company-proposed bargaining agreement.
On Sunday, 78 workers met at Teamsters Union Hall in South Charleston and unanimously voted against Coca-Cola’s new contract offer. Teamsters says the new contract offer will eliminate jobs and reduce pay for several workers.
The current contract expires Tuesday at midnight, meaning if Coca-Cola does not reach an agreement with its workers before then, the employees will go on strike.
According to a press release sent by Teamsters, Coca-Cola and the union negotiated for nine days but could not reach an agreement that would abide by a settlement previously reached between the parties.
Workers like Robert Catlett say they are prepared to go on strike if that is what they have to do to earn better pay and benefits from the company.
“I hope that they see that our vote, unanimous, that we reject this, that they will think about it and understand that people work for them and have for 30 years that this is unacceptable, and that they’ll change their mind before it’s too late,” Catlett said.
According to the Teamsters union, Coca-Cola entered an agreement with Sheetz convenience stores without discussing the agreement with the union. Union representatives allege the agreement will lead to Coca-Cola eliminating union employees’ work by having product delivered from out-of-state directly to Sheetz’s warehouses.
Teamsters released the following statement:
“The manner in which they treat their employees is disgusting. The company wants to eliminate work for its own employees which is the opposite of what their competitors are doing in the state of WV who want all of the work to be handled by their own employees. Perhaps that is why their competitors sell more product in WV than Coca-Cola.
In terms of their deal with Sheetz, I am surprised that Sheetz has entered into that agreement with Coke given the fact that the majority of their business consists of working people and in areas such as Morgantown the majority of their business is college students. The one thing that is certain is that West Virginian’s do not support nor appreciate out of state companies who come to WV to destroy jobs.
Coke should be aware of this, given that in 2000 when Coke forced a strike at their then Huntington, WV facility, they lost substantial amounts of business in WV. During that strike the company could have settled the Huntington contract for less than $50,000, instead spent over $3 million dollars during the strike in addition to firing the CEO of the company within two months of the conclusion of the strike.”Ken Hall, President Teamsters Local 175
Following the unanimous vote, Coca-Cola Consolidated released the following statement:
“We care deeply about our West Virginia teammates, and we’re dedicated to strengthening the communities where they live and work. Any assertion to the contrary is inaccurate.
We’ve continually invested in our West Virginia business operations, and we support non-profits and community organizations our teammates take part in and care about. We value our teammates’ contributions and hold regular appreciation events at our facilities.
We’ve provided the union a fair and competitive contract offer for their members. We don’t believe a work stoppage is in our teammates’ best interest. During this time, we remain focused on continuing to serve our customers.”Coca-Cola Consolidated
Teamsters also represents Coca-Cola employees in Bluefield, Clarksburg, and Parkersburg. Workers in Bluefield also went on strike against Coca-Cola in July 2021.