Group of over 300 workers threaten strike
Hundreds of Teamsters Local 174 members who work at Columbia Distributing voted unanimously in favor of a strike against their employer today during a spirited online meeting. These workers warehouse and deliver beer, soda, water, juice, and some wine and spirits to restaurants and stores throughout the Puget Sound area, and if they were to walk off the job, these deliveries would all but cease.
The sticking point in the negotiations is not the economics of the contract, but the far more important issue of contract language to protect workers on the job. Management insisted on putting forth proposals for contract language that would allow them to fire workers indiscriminately for minor offenses, and for so-called ‘offenses’ that were only witnessed by the company’s worker surveillance technology. This type of surveillance technology allows companies to indiscriminately target employees who stand up for their rights on the job and hold Employers accountable for their action.
The meeting included anger and vitriol from the workers, who have spent the past 15 months toiling through a pandemic and showing incredible loyalty to their employer. Many pointed out that under the work rules management had proposed, they would have already been terminated for minor instances such as forgetting to clock back in from lunch, or breaking too hard while making deliveries in a truck. When the time came to take a vote, the group was in perfect solidarity, delivering the clear message that they were not willing to work under the rules Columbia was demanding.
“We always say that it doesn’t matter how much money is in a contract if the company has the power to fire you for looking at them sideways, and that’s exactly what Columbia seems to want,” said Teamsters Local 174 Secretary-Treasurer Rick Hicks. “Our members will not ever settle for a contract that doesn’t actually protect them and their livelihoods, and they proved that today with this unanimous strike authorization. Columbia management needs to think long and hard about how far they are willing to take this, especially during a record labor shortage, because our members are willing to take this fight to the street, and if that happens we plan to win.”
Now that a strike has been authorized by the membership, one can be called at any moment.
Founded in 1909, Teamsters Local 174 represents 8,600 working men and women in Seattle and the surrounding areas. “Like” us on Facebook at www.facebook.com/TeamstersLocal174.