7/17/08

Teamsters strike Coca-Cola in RTW states

Related Coca-Cola strike stories: here

Militant unionists stand their ground in hostile territory

By 10:00 a.m. Larry Evans had been yelling at trucks crossing the picket line on Highway 90 for six hours Wednesday. He said one of the trucks was driven by his supervisor at the Coca-Cola plant in Tillman's Corner.

Evans has 31 years with the company and he says his retirement is in jeopardy. "It’s the first time we struck, and I didn't want to do it, but I don't want to lose my pension." he said.

Dan Krulewicz is the shop steward for the sales department in Mobile. He was on the negotiating committee for the Teamsters Local 991. The negotiations for nearly 300 workers came to an end this weekend. Krulewicz says the company wants to switch the workers from a pension plan to a 401K retirement savings plan. But, the union says the workers will lose too much.

"I can't go to my fellow union members and say this is a good thing to go with the 401K when it's lost money in the first 3 years. Now, they want to do away with our pension plan and go with the 401K." he said.

Right now the dispute is between the company and its striking workers, but folks on the picket line say it won't be long before many others are feeling the effects of the strike.

"It's gonna affect everybody in Mobile before it's over if they drink Coke." said Krulewicz.

And the workers say there's no end in sight right now.

"Their position was to just to pull the pension from the table, period. Just get completely out of it, and we felt that was unfair." James Tricksey. "We just want to keep what we've always had. We're not asking for nothing extra," he said

The strike affects four Coca Cola bottling facilities in Alabama and Mississippi. So far, the company has had no comment.

(myfoxgulfcoast.com)

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