PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- A Philadelphia union has gone on strike against Liberty Coca-Cola, the tri-state region's largest provider of Coca-Cola products.
Teamsters Local 830, which represents thousands of unionized drivers, warehouse and production workers, and sales and marketing personnel in the beverage industry, announced the strike on Sunday.
The union represents 450 members at the Philadelphia plant.
Members of the union say they rejected Liberty Coca-Cola's latest contract proposal and unanimously voted to go on strike.
This comes after 18 sessions of bargaining, with the last session going for nearly 18 hours, according to union representatives.
The group calls Liberty's contract proposal "insulting," and compensation is a huge sticking point for workers who say they worked tirelessly through the pandemic and are the driving force behind operations and success.
Picket lines are now up at the company's plant on Erie Avenue in Philadelphia.
"The hardworking members of Teamsters Local 830 have had enough and, frankly, so have I," said Teamsters Local 830 Secretary-Treasurer Daniel Grace in a statement.
The union is mainly asking for greater compensation and fair benefits packages.
"The membership, they are upset over the wage offer, the benefit offer, medical benefits and also retirement," said Grace.
"Liberty Coca-Cola can end this impasse quickly by giving our members a fair contract that accounts for the runaway inflation in America and our quality of life issues," he added. "Until then, however, we'll remain on strike. Our resolve and solidarity are unshakable."
Officials with Liberty Coca-Cola released the following statement in response to the forming strike:
"At Liberty Coca-Cola Beverages, our employees are essential to our shared success, and we are always committed to helping them build bright futures. We have been negotiating in good faith with union leadership over the last few months. We presented a contract for our 400 members that offers the highest wage increases in Coca-Cola/Teamster Local 830's history, along with a generous health and welfare benefits package. The considerable offerings are in addition to the millions of dollars we have invested in our facility over the past few years, including new trucks for our drivers, new warehouse technology, and a fitness center - all to maintain a safe and healthy work environment for our hardworking men and women.
While Daniel Grace, secretary-treasurer for the union, and other national and local leadership endorsed the contract, unfortunately, the Local 830 members voted to reject the last, best offer and agreed to strike effective April 16, 2023. We remain committed to finding a solution that fairly balances the needs of the business, our customers, and associates, and will continue to negotiate in good faith with the union leadership.
We have a strong contingency plan in place that allows for the continued delivery of our products to our customers and consumers throughout the Philadelphia region market. We will continue to work with the union to reach a fair and equitable solution quickly."
In addition to its iconic brand, Liberty Coca-Cola also bottles and distributes Dr. Pepper, Dasani Water, Fanta Soda, Gold Peak Iced Tea, Hi-C, Monster Energy, Minute Maid, Powerade, and Sprite, among many other brands.