SOUTH CHARLESTON, WV (WOWK) — Unionized Coca-Cola workers are protesting at the South Charleston Sheetz Friday because of contract negotiations.
According to Teamsters Local 175, the union that represents Coca-Cola workers, 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.
The informational handout that the union was sharing with people Friday night says it does not ask or intend for any employee to stop work or deliveries, and is not intended to ask people to boycott Sheetz or Coca Cola.
Luke Farley with the Teamers 175 says that members will be handing out information at locations across the state of West Virginia on Saturday.
Friday night Sheetz 13 News asked Sheetz for a comment about the situation:
“Sheetz has decades of experience in distributing a variety of products. We are constantly working with our partners on new ways to bring their products to our stores, in a way that improves the experience for our customers. We are also committed, in every area where our stores operate, to being the best neighbor we can be and to giving back to our communities,” Nick Ruffner, the public relations manager for Sheetz said via email Friday night.
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.
Teamers Local 175 said they would wait to see if Coca-Cola Consolidated came forward with a new offer before they go on strike. If they go on strike, Hall said the picket line could extend to other Coca-Cola locations in West Virginia and Ohio.
The union also represents Coca-Cola employees in Bluefield, Clarksburg and Parkersburg. Workers in Bluefield went on strike against Coca-Cola in July 2021.