Le Lézard
Classified in: Transportation
Subject: LBR

Teamsters: Keurig Dr Pepper Takes Aim at Democracy, Threatens Union Rights

CHICAGO, Feb. 27, 2020 /PRNewswire/ -- On July 12, 2019, more than 50 sales service representatives (SSRs) and account managers (AMs) employed at the American Bottling Company's Northlake, Ill. facility overwhelmingly voted in favor of electing Teamsters Local 727 as their sole collective bargaining representative. Though the workers' have repeatedly made clear their desire for union representation, those managing the Keurig Dr Pepper (NYSE: KDP) subsidiary have relentlessly fought their employees' democratic and free choice.

International Brotherhood Of Teamsters. (PRNewsFoto/International Brotherhood of Teamsters)

Before the SSRs' and AMs' held their election, Keurig Dr Pepper attempted to impede the proceedings by presenting numerous objections to the election to Region 13 of the National Labor Relations Board. Though these desperate objections were quashed at a pre-election hearing, Keurig Dr Pepper once again submitted the same objections to the NLRB immediately following SSRs' and AMs' exercise of their lawful right to unionize. As they had been previously, the objections were once again overruled. Similarly, the company's request for a review of Region 13's election hearing decision, including the region's certification of Local 727 as the union representative of both SSRs and AMs, was similarly denied following the election.  Though the company received due process at the election hearing, Keurig Dr Pepper management attempted to take a second bite at the apple by refusing to recognize and bargain with the union. To date, Keurig Dr Pepper continues to deny its employees' democratically chosen representative. As a result of the company's refusal to recognize and bargain with Local 727, the union was forced to file unfair labor practice charges against Keurig Dr Pepper.

In addition to filing charges over Keurig Dr Pepper's unlawful refusal to bargain, Local 727 has also filed charges over management's outrageous union surveillance?including management's interrogation of workers over their union activities and support?as well as over the company's retaliation against its employees following their free choice to unionize. 

After workers democratically voted in favor of Local 727 representation, Keurig Dr Pepper responded by holding mandatory meetings in which management threatened retaliation against its workers. Just days later, the company punished its workers by unilaterally rerouting salesmen and demoting SSRs. Local 727 immediately sprang into action and filed an unfair labor practice charge against the company. Throughout the NLRB's processing of the charge, Local 727 remained unwavering and steadfast in its demand that all workers be made whole and returned to their previous positions. 

Over the course of several months, Region 13 one-by-one found merit with nearly every unfair labor practice charge filed by the union. While merit finding on any charge is a victory, Local 727 was disappointed to receive the Labor Board's consolidated complaint. 

"In light of our current president's war on unions, labor protections, and middle-class workers, it should come as no surprise that, even when the law is on a union's side, Region 13 will go easy on corporate bullies at the expense of hardworking Americans," said John Coli, Jr., Secretary-Treasurer of Local 727. "Nevertheless, this union will not back down. We will not stop until Keurig Dr Pepper salesmen receive the respect and fair treatment they so justly deserve."

While the union awaits a decision on its appeal, the fight for a fair contract has continued. Earlier this month, the NLRB issued a summary judgment against Keurig Dr Pepper in which the labor board acknowledged that the company violated federal labor law and engaged in unfair labor practices when it failed to bargain over a first contract for SSRs and AMs with Local 727. As a result of this finding, the NLRB ordered Keurig Dr Pepper management to cease refusing to recognize and bargain with the union, as well as desist from interfering with its employees' right to union representation.

Though the vast majority of companies respect the NLRB's final decision and accept their loss, on Feb. 12, 2020, Keurig Dr Pepper become one of the handful of companies each year to file a petition for review with the District Court of Appeals and challenge the Labor Board's order.

Should Keurig Dr Pepper win its appeal and overturn all three of the NLRB's previous decisions, this case could set a dangerous precedent for the labor movement as a whole.

"Keurig Dr Pepper appears determined to shatter democracy by tearing down workers' rights.  If the company gets its way, all union organizing efforts could be threatened and the labor movement destroyed," added Coli. "The entire labor movement must unite now.  We cannot wait and allow this soda giant, or any other greedy corporation, to beat back the rights generations of workers have fought to secure. Now is the time for action."

Local 727 urges all fellow organized laborers to remain vigilant, to report companies that violate the law or their collective bargaining agreements, and to continue to stand together in solidarity. "Local 727 will always fight to support our hardworking union Brothers and Sisters," said Coli. "Only by standing together can we truly ensure workers are protected and receiving their fair share."

Teamsters Local 727 represents nearly 10,000 hardworking men and women throughout the Chicago area, including over 2,000 workers in the beverage industry. 

Caleen Carter-Patton
(847) 696-7500

SOURCE Teamsters Local Union 727, Park Ridge, Illinois

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