Workers at Cott Beverages in Ft. Worth, TX have voted to join Teamsters Local 997. The 79 new members manufacture third-party soft drink beverages for big-box stores such as Walmart and Costco.
“Congratulations to all of the workers at Cott Beverages who fought hard for their right to union representation,” said Local 997 Principal Officer Rick Miedema. “Our new members stood together in the face of company opposition, and we’re going to push forward for some major improvements once we get to the negotiating table.”
The workers voted to join by over a 2-1 margin, and over 80 percent signed interest cards indicating they supported an NLRB election. The campaign was quick; the workers started organizing only a month and a half ago, and only 21 days elapsed between the time of the NLRB filing and the final vote.
Patreecia Jones is the wife of Bobby Jones and mother of LaQuentis Jones, both of which work for Cott Beverages. She helped out with the organizing drive was elated to see the workers secure a victory.
“Before, everyone at Cott Beverages had a voice, but it wasn’t being heard, nobody was listening to their concerns” Jones said. “Now that they have a union, the workers have a voice, and things are going to get better.”
Benefits and wage increases were a significant motivating factor in the union organizing drive. New staff brought over from another company was getting paid at a higher rate than the long-term employees, who hadn’t received a raise in three to four years. The company had also been decreasing its contributions to the 401(k) plan and shifting more of the burden of paying for health care onto its workers.
Towards the end of the campaign, the company hired outside help in an attempt to dissuade anyone from joining, but the committee stood strong in the face of opposition. They used a mix of handbills, personal phone calls, text messages, robo-calls, and even mailers to rebut the company’s claims and make sure that everyone understood the importance of voting yes for Teamster membership.
“I told everyone once we filed the list of things the union-buster was going to say to prevent folks from joining, and sure enough, he said everything that was on that list, it was like he had a copy,” Miedema said. “In the end, we prevailed, and I’m proud of everyone that worked so hard to bring Cott Beverages into Local 997.”