Union warehouse workers, drivers and sales staff at the region’s largest Coca-Cola bottler and distributor voted to strike Sunday, according to Teamsters Local 830 leadership.
“Liberty Coca-Cola has done business with my members and all members [bargaining] Local 830 Treasury Secretary Daniel Grace said in a statement. He said the company does not provide workers with satisfactory compensation or benefits, calling the latest contract offer an “insult”.
The union workforce of about 400 people was setting up a picket line at 725 E. Erie Ave. , the Philadelphia facility where Liberty bottles Coca-Cola, Dasani water, Powerade, Monster Energy, Gold Peak iced tea, and other brands.
Liberty Coca-Cola issued a statement saying it had negotiated in good faith with employees and was offering “the highest pay raises in Coca-Cola/Teamster Local 830 history along with a health and wellness package. The great offers add up to the millions of dollars we have invested over the years.” in our factory, including new trucks for our drivers, new warehouse technology and a fitness center.”
The company said national union leaders and the 3,500-member local chief supported the latest offer, but workers voted against accepting it.
Five years ago, the union came close to a strike amid tense contract negotiations in the wake of the city’s soda tax, which led to a 38.9% drop in sweetened drink purchases, a University of Pennsylvania study found School of Medicine. After that, Liberty employees focused on fighting to keep their retirement benefits.
Since then, the plant’s workforce has shrunk by about a third.
“The soda tax has really hit us. We are so far from where we used to be,” said Grace.
Grace declined to publish specific details about the wages workers are now seeking, but said wages have not kept pace with “runaway inflation”. He said the striking workers are also seeking health insurance and various pension benefits.
He said, “We’ll stay in it until we get what we’re looking for.”
Liberty Coca-Cola promised to work with the union for a just and equitable solution. Meanwhile, the statement referred to “a robust contingency plan that will enable the continued supply of our products to our customers and consumers throughout the Philadelphia area.”