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Bitter Coca-Cola Labor Dispute Ends In Contract

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Two Illinois Coca-Cola facilities and the Teamsters union were able to agree on a labor contract proposal Tuesday night after nearly a two-month long bitter labor dispute.

Local 727 of the union accused the soft drink giant of purposely undermining negotiations. The union filed numerous federal complaints and launched a strike against the company as a result. Local 727 eventually agreed to federal mediation after the soft drink giant suggested it. Now the two sides managed to arrive at a contract proposal.

“We are pleased Coca-Cola Refreshments and Teamsters Local 727 have tentatively agreed to the terms for a new three-year contract,” a company representative told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “We are pleased to welcome our associates back to work.”

The tentative agreement will still need to be agreed on by unionized workers at the facilities. Nevertheless, the union has since ended the strike which began Dec. 3, a few days after its last contract expired. Primary issues throughout the negotiations included how to handle shift preferences, adjustments to the grievance procedure, mechanics testing, scheduling and employees being guaranteed 40-hour workweeks.

“These hardworking men and women walked the picket line for 27 days fighting for respect and a fair contract from their employer, and they’ve achieved both,” Local 727 Secretary-Treasurer John T. Coli said in a statement. “Our members should be extremely proud of themselves for taking a stand to change the culture at Coca-Cola.”

The dispute began Nov. 5 when Local 727 accused the company of delaying negotiations by cutting meetings shorts. The dispute made a turn for the worse Nov. 24 when the union alleged in numerous federal complaints the company bargained in bad faith, intimidated workers and unilaterally changed contract terms and working conditions. Coca-Cola denied the accusations.

“This tentative agreement is a strong step forward for hundreds of workers whose collective demand for respect has been heard loud and clear by their employer,” Coli added.

Local 727 represents 300 warehouse, production and transport workers at the two locations. Coca-Cola is based in Atlanta with facilities all across the country.

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