Coca-Cola distributor employees striking over labor practices

Pickets hold signs in Putnam County. Teamsters Local 175 union says about 28 employees went on strike after Coca-Cola Consolidated in Bluefield made unilateral changes. (WCHS/WVAH)

Workers for Coca-Cola Consolidated are striking after the company announced its attempt to make changes to its health insurance plan and increase costs for workers.

On Wednesday, about 28 employees went on strike after the company in Bluefield made unilateral changes, a news release from the Teamsters Local 175 union said, causing the company to shut down statewide distribution operations.

Pickets extended to Coca-Cola Consolidated locations in Logan, Charleston, Parkersburg and Clarksburg.

“We have filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board alleging that the Coca-Cola distributor has violated federal labor laws, but we hope this short one-day strike will minimize service disruptions and force the company to honor the law,” said Teamsters Local 175 Secretary-Treasurer Ralph Winter in the release.

The involved parties have been in negotiations for several months but have not yet reached an agreement.

Coca-Cola Consolidated is attempting to make changes to the health insurance plan and increase costs for employees, the release said.

The last time a strike took place at Coca-Cola Consolidated due to a failure to reach an agreement was in 2000. The strike lasted 21 weeks.

After that strike, employees won unemployment benefits as a result of the company’s actions, the release said.

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