29 Apr, 2020, 17:02 ET
CHICAGO, April 29, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- While the coronavirus pandemic and the hits to the economy are frightening, much of the United States is coming together and finding ways to support each other and frontline, essential workers. Many employers, including Keurig Dr Pepper (NYSE:KDP) and Pepsi (NYSE:PEP), have given hazard pay and additional sick leave to their employees, as well as developed well-thought out, documented practices and policies to protect their essential employees who are putting their health and the health of their family at risk every day. On the other hand, Great Lakes Coca-Cola (GLCC), a subsidiary of Reyes Holdings and bottler/distributor of Coca-Cola products (NYSE:KO), has used the uncertainty and fear of the coronavirus to further their anti-union agenda and save money on the backs of their employees.
While GLCC previously put in to place a substandard "supplemental pay" that incentivized members to come to work, the additional $100 a week (contingent on not being sick) only lasted until April 25. When Teamsters Local 727 requested any documents, policies or plans for how the company intended to protect employees, including deciding who should be quarantined after someone was infected due as a result of their work for GLCC, management told the union to google the guidance provided by the CDC. Adding insult to injury, GLCC has not only violated the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA), but they have put members health at risk just today when management at the Niles production facility forced employee to take masks off that had been provided to them by the union.
"It is shocking that Great Lakes Coca-Cola is so anti-union that they would put workers' health and their families' health at risk rather than let their frontline, essential workers wear a mask that has a Teamsters logo. This isn't a time for the company to flex their muscles and try to win a victory over the union, this is quite literally life and death," said John Coli, Jr., Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 727. "We have had a lot of battles with GLCC through the grievance process and at the labor board, but I would never expect a company to put their unwarranted vendettas over the health of their members."
Local 727 has made a demand to bargain over the substandard hazard pay, but the company cancelled the original teleconference. Before it could be rescheduled, the company unilaterally implemented dozens of lay-offs, and to date, has refused to provide any reasoning or documentation for the lay-offs. Management did not inform the union representatives that "supplemental pay" was ended—they told some members directly but have yet to formally announce anything. Local 727 has filed unfair labor practice charges with Region 13 of the NLRB over both the unilateral lay-offs and removal of Teamster masks. Additionally Local 727 has filed a complaint with OSHA which is currently pending.
"We are being told by members in the Niles facility that all types of masks are allowed. Some have been wearing ones they made themselves out of scrap fabric, and others are wearing masks made by loved ones. Many of them have designs. These Teamster workers are putting their own health and safety at risk to bottle and distribute water and other beverages to the city of Chicago, and their employer would rather have them potentially spread and contract COVID than allow them to wear a Teamsters mask," said Coli, Jr., "The local purchased the masks because employees at places like GLCC were complaining that the company was not providing a sufficient amount or doing enough to protect their safety."
Teamsters Local 727 represents nearly 10,000 hardworking men and women throughout the Chicago area.
Nothing in this article should be read as the union's waiver of any legal argument, position or grievance(s), or as a waiver of any rights, arguments, or defenses under any contract, collective bargaining agreement, or applicable law. The union does not forfeit its right to make any and all supplemental arguments.
Caleen Carter-Patton, (847) 696-7500
SOURCE Teamsters Local Union 727, Park Ridge, Illinois
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