Shop steward Van Huyhn was unjustly terminated by his Coca Cola employer, but his co-workers stood in solidarity to expedite his return to work.
Van's co-workers at Swire Coca Cola show their support.
Inside the Coke warehouse, everyone knows Van Huynh. Van is an outstanding shop steward who does not tolerate any injustice towards his co-workers.
But Van is more than that. He is a survivor of Viet Cong atrocities. When his family immigrated to the U.S., he dealt with debilitating disease, the loss of his sister, and poverty. Working hard despite all odds, Van provided for his family, including a handicapped parent, and today his kids are on the way to college. Van is the stuff American dreams are made of.
Evidently this means nothing to Van’s employer. Earlier this month, Swire Coca-Cola, forced him to accept what they are deceptively calling a “voluntary resignation.” Instead of granting him a leave of absence as Van had requested, the company took advantage of long immigration backlogs to terminate him.
A representative of the Department of Justice (DOJ) contacted Coke management to inform them that the termination was unnecessary. Nevertheless, Coke ignored the advice of the DOJ and moved ahead with the “voluntary resignation.”
Early this morning, Van’s co-workers at Swire Coca-Cola wore solidarity stickers and signed a petition in support of the eight-year Local 117 member.
In the petition, members are demanding that Coke grant Van an immediate leave of absence so that he can return to work as soon as his paperwork is processed. The petition goes on to say:
Van has been a Shop Steward for two years and has worked aggressively to enforce our contract at Coke and protect members’ rights under the contract. He is also a graduate of our Teamster Leadership Academy and authored a powerful story about how the union has positively impacted his life.
“Van is an inspiration to members across our union,” said John Scearcy, Secretary-Treasurer of Teamsters Local 117. “We will fight to protect his rights under the contract and under the law and will hold Coke accountable for retaliation of any kind for Van's involvement in the union.”
Three generations of Teamsters at Coke: Gene Kettle (l), Dave Campbell (center), Jake Campbell (r).
“As long as those trucks are rolling, stay close to them and you’ll be fine.”
That was the advice Dave Campbell gave his son, Jake, who went to work for Coca-Cola as a merchandiser when he was still in high school. It was the same advice Dave’s father-in-law, Gene Kettle, had given him when Dave launched his own Teamsters career 36 years ago.
In all, the family’s employment at Coke has spanned three generations for a combined 75 years of service.
Gene started as a Teamster at the company back in 1955, but eventually promoted into management and went on to run operations at Coke’s Marysville branch. Dave recalls his father-in-law telling stories of a Coke strike back in the 70s’. “They hired a bunch of Huskies to load trucks,” he said. “One of them knocked over six pallet boards and half buried a route truck in glass. They fired them all.”Read more
Dale Ekstrom (center) together with Local 117 ST John Scearcy (l) and President Michelle Woodrow (r).
Congrats to Dale Ekstrom, a 41-year Teamster at Coke, who retired at the end of last year.
Dale stopped by the office today to pick up his 40-year watch, catch up with Local 117 Secretary-Treasurer John Scearcy, and reflect on his career choice.
Drafted by the Portland Timbers in 1978, Dale had to choose between playing professional soccer and a summer job at Coke with the Teamsters. He decided to pass on the soccer gig and he's happy he did. The Timbers ended up folding later that year.
"It turned into a very long summer," Dale said. 41 years later, Dale can retire with the security of his Teamsters pension. He plans to spend as much time as he can out fishing.
Congratulations on a great Teamsters career, Dale. Enjoy your retirement, brother. You earned it!
I wanted to share with you some important news regarding your contract.
Early Saturday morning at 2:30AM, your Union bargaining committee reached a fully-recommended tentative agreement with Coca-Cola. We will be holding a contract ratification vote this Sunday, June 12.
To ensure that your voice is heard, we have established the following voting times and locations for Teamsters Local 117 members in Bellingham, Everett, and Tukwila on June 12:
BELLINGHAM - 10AM
Teamsters Local 231
1700 N State St # 103
Bellingham, WA 98225
EVERETT - 11AM
Teamsters Local 38
2601 Everett Ave
Everett, WA 98201
TUKWILA - 10AM & 3PM
Teamsters Union Hall
14675 Interurban Ave. S
Tukwila, WA 98168
Please share this information with your co-workers. For more information, talk with your Business Representative, Kris Fish at 206-441-4860 ext. 1231.
By including these additional locations, I hope that as many of you as possible can participate in the process and that all groups are well represented.
If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to me at 206-441-4860 ext. 1240.
Thank you for your patience during contract negotiations and for the incredible work you do as a part of this Union.