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Teamsters End Strike at Coke Plants

June 06, 2005|Nancy Cleeland | Times Staff Writer

Teamsters workers ended a two-week strike against Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. and returned to work Sunday after some members changed their minds and accepted a deal worked out earlier by union negotiators.

About 1,650 striking drivers, packers and warehouse workers at the company's seven Los Angeles plants were seeking better wages and healthcare benefits under a proposed five-year contract. The workers are represented by four locals of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters, which bargain jointly.

On Thursday, negotiators for the four locals urged their members to ratify a contract that they said improved health benefits over the contract that expired in April. Members of three locals did just that. But at a fourth -- Local 896 -- members rejected the deal, 296 to 192. Picketing continued, and the three locals honored the lines.

On Sunday morning, members of Local 896 voted again and ratified it, 277 to 70, said union spokeswoman Hilda Delgado. She said workers planned to return for the Sunday night shift.

No details of the contract were available. A company spokesman could not be reached for comment Sunday.

Fast-growing Coca-Cola Enterprises distributes about 80% of the sodas produced in the United States by the Coca-Cola Co., which owns about one-third of the company. The publicly traded firm is based in Atlanta.

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