(Seattle, WA) – 500 Western Washington Coke employees who went on strike last Monday will return to work unconditionally in a gesture that demonstrates their willingness to bargain a fair and equitable contract in good faith. Negotiations between the Washington Teamsters United and Coke are set to resume this Wednesday and Thursday, September 1 and 2.
“Over the last week, we have demonstrated to Coke the value of our professionalism and our labor,” said Blaine Parks, a 32-year driver for Coke’s production and distribution facility in Bellevue. “We have also sent a strong message to Coke that its employees expect the company to take the collective bargaining process seriously.”
Union representatives expect the 500 area Coke employees will resume normal operations Tuesday morning to catch up with the backlog created by last week’s work stoppage.
“We are optimistic that Coke will return to negotiations prepared to bargain in good faith,” said Tracey A. Thompson, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117 and chief negotiator for Washington Teamsters United.“Issues like the health care for Coke employees and retirees are too important to our members and their families not to be addressed in a straightforward and forthright manner.”
The Union says it will continue to pursue the Unfair Labor Practice charges it brought against Coke before the National Labor Relations Board as well as the class-action ERISA lawsuit on behalf of Coke employees who had their health care benefits revoked by the company shortly after the work stoppage began last week.
Approximately 500 Coke employees in Western Washington went on strike on Monday, August 23, over charges of employee surveillance, intimidation and bad faith bargaining. Contract negotiations between the Union and Coke have been underway since April. The employees’ contract expired on May 15, 2010.