Coca-Cola Workers Strike After Talks Fizzle Out

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Illinois Coca-Cola workers belonging to the Teamsters voted to strike Sunday over allegations the company violated worker protection laws.

The allegations were first detailed Nov. 24 in numerous federal complaints. The two sides are working towards a new labor agreement for unionized workers at two state facilities. Local 727 of the union represents 300 warehouse, production and transport workers at the locations. The strike vote was first announced by the union Monday.

“Coca-Cola Refreshments has committed one egregious unfair labor practice after another to try to derail contract negotiations,” Local 727 president John Coli Jr. says in a statement. “The Teamsters won’t be intimidated.”

According to the union, the vast majority of the 225 workers want to strike. The union alleges the company has bargained in bad faith, intimidated workers and unilaterally changed contract terms and working conditions.

“Our union has a proven record of standing up to corporate bullies to protect working families,” Coli adds. “By authorizing an unfair labor practice strike, our members have sent a unified message to Coca-Cola Refreshments that they will not be taken advantage of.”

The current contract expires Tuesday at midnight. Local 727 members may take to the picket line and begin striking within a day after it expires. The union claims the company has threatened workers with job loss for engaging with the union, intimidated workers who wear union gear and bargained with no actual intentions of reaching a new labor agreement.

Local 727 also claims the company unilaterally changed the terms and conditions of the agreement still in effect as well as denying multiple information requests made by the union. The union wrote Nov. 5 that the company has on numerous occasions cut meetings short, delaying the ability to address a long list of lingering issues. Coca-Cola is denying the allegations.

“Teamsters Local 727’s choice of tactics is unfortunate,” a company representative previously told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “However, while we will vigorously defend against these unsubstantiated allegations, our primary focus remains on bargaining in good faith with Teamsters Local 727 to reach an equitable deal for our employees and their members.”

Several issues have divided the company and union throughout the contract talks. The sticking points include how to handle shift preferences, adjustments to the grievance procedure, mechanics testing, scheduling, and employees being guaranteed 40-hour workweeks.

 The company is based in Atlanta with facilities all across the country. Prior to the latest dispute, the Teamsters alleged in March of 2013 that the company led a smear campaign against unionized workers at its Las Vegas facility. It also claimed in April of 2010 that mismanagement could destroy jobs and undermine workers’ rights throughout the entire company.

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