7/22/08

Teamsters strike v. Coca-Cola, day 9

Related Teamsters-Coca-Cola strike stories: here

Strikers now question their own endurance

Monday marked day nine of a Teamsters strike at the Coca-Cola Consolidated Bottling Plant in Vancleve (MS), and still no progress has been made. Coca-Cola is proposing to stop pension plans payments and put more money into workers' 401k plans. But striking workers look at the move as a big financial loss.

Under the company's proposed plan, workers would receive higher wages, and the company would switch from a pension fund to putting more money into union members' 401k plans. But 18 year employee Bobby Kovacevich believes the proposed plan does more harm than good.

"The older guys will lose up to $500-$700 out of their pension per month," Kovacevich said.

Kovacevich said Coca-Cola has not contacted union leaders to work out a new deal. He said, until that happens, his fellow union members will continue to walk the picket line.

"I think they are wanting to see how long we can hold out in these economic times, and I know we are hurting... they are hurting too," Kovacevich said.

"It's hot, and its going to get harder and longer because a lot of these people don't have a lot of money to live on," union member Richard Miller said.

Coca Cola Spokesperson Lauren Steele told WLOX News, "Coca-Cola has made a very generous contract offer, especially in light of the current economy. This does not make any sense for them to walk off their jobs and not make money."

"I think they are trying to bust this union up," Kovacevich said.

"Hopefully the union and Coca-Cola start talking and get this settled and get back to work," Miller said.

According to Steele, the strike will not affect customers in South Mississippi and surrounding areas.

(wlox.com)

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