Coca-Cola plant workers in Calgary strike to fight outsourcing

·2 min read

CALGARY — About 270 workers at a Coca-Cola plant in Calgary went on strike Monday and their union is warning that deliveries of the beverages to customers could be disrupted.

Teamsters Local Union 987 said its members have been steadily losing job hours to third-party contractors, reducing their ability to earn a living for themselves and their families.

“These workers have dedicated themselves to keeping product moving to Albertans during a difficult time," Teamsters business agent Brock Penner said in a release.

"Over the past year, these workers were deemed an essential service and have been there for Albertans. Now it’s time that Albertans stand with them as they fight for job security during uncertain times.”

The affected workers, who are in warehouse, production, distribution and equipment service jobs, voted 94 per cent in favour of strike action on March 4.

The union says the strike is likely to affect delivery of beverages to restaurants, grocery stores and other Alberta customers.

The previous agreement with the company expired in October of last year. The union said it has not had to take strike action since 2004 and is not eager to enter into a dispute.

A spokeswoman for Coca-Cola Canada Bottling Ltd. said the company is disappointed the union has chosen to walk off the job after months of negotiations and several mediation sessions.

"This is an unnecessary and unfortunate situation," Nicola Krishna said in an email.

She said the company and the union reached agreements twice, but neither deal was ratified by the union's membership.

The company did not seek any concessions during collective bargaining, Krishna added.

"We have put forth a proposal that provides long-term stability, offers wage increases, and other improved working conditions, while still meeting the needs of our business in these extraordinary times," she said.

"We're committed to the collective bargaining process and are prepared to return to the bargaining table to reach a resolution as soon as possible."

In the meantime, Krishna said Coca-Cola is doing whatever it can to avoid service disruptions by maintaining production in Calgary and supplying Southern Alberta customers from other plants across Canada.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published March 15, 2021

The Canadian Press