CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Unionized Coca-Cola workers in Charleston and Logan will return to work Thursday because they said they are, “concerned about their customers not receiving service.”
Ken Hall, President of Teamsters Local 175, who represents the union that represents Coca-Cola workers, said, “Despite [Coca-Cola Consolidated’s] earlier public statement that ‘we have a solid plan in place to continue serving our customers’ the fact is, since the strike began the company has sent out 10-15% of their delivery trucks. Coca Cola has made no attempt to service any customers other than its largest. Unfortunately, I’m not surprised by the company’s inactions. As I’ve told our members, I respect the fact that they are concerned about their customers, but I remain skeptical as to whether the company cares enough about those customers to make some attempt to resolve these disputes.”
Teamsters Local 175 said the strike that started on Tuesday began because of contract negotiations, which included an agreement Coca-Cola entered with Sheetz convenience stores that they did not allegedly discuss with the union.
Union representatives alleged the agreement would lead to Coca-Cola eliminating union employees’ work by having product delivered from out-of-state directly to Sheetz’s warehouses.
On April 23, unionized Coca-Cola workers based in Charleston and Logan unanimously voted against the new contract.
At the time, the President of Teamsters Local 175, Ken Hall, said, “The manner in which [Coca-Cola Consolidated] treats 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.” Hall said that he was “surprised” that Coca-Cola and Sheetz entered into the agreement.
On April 25, union workers decided to go on strike but that decision was changed a day later because of the close relationship Coca-Cola workers have with the customers.
In reference to the strike, Coca-Cola Consolidated said, “We care deeply about our teammates and believe we presented a fair and competitive offer.” They said they were “disappointed” when the union went on strike and said they would continue to serve customers.
The union also represents Coca-Cola employees in Bluefield, Clarksburg and Parkersburg. Workers in Bluefield went on strike against Coca-Cola in July 2021.