The Teamsters had words of thanks for UFCW 1518 members at the conclusion of the dispute with their employer, Coca Cola. “Teamsters Local Union No. 213 would like to thank all those who supported its members through this period” wrote Secretary-Treasurer Walter Canta.
About 370 Teamsters working in production, warehousing, trucking and merchandising at Coke facilities in the Lower Mainland had been on strike since July 24, fighting for a fair contract. When they reached out to the broader labour movement for support, UFCW 1518 was there. “We agreed to honour any flying pickets that Teamsters might put up at our Save On Foods and Safeway stores across the Lower Mainland,” explains Director Kim Balmer. “We have strong and tested language in our collective agreements that affirms our members’ right not to work behind a legal picket line.”
The BC Labour Relations Board had previously held that Teamsters 213 can lawfully picket during a delivery of Coca Cola’s product at a retail grocery store. UFCW 1518 reminded members of their own legal right to support such a picket and provided instructions for an orderly shutdown of a store should a Teamster picket go up.
Part of picket line language includes a prohibition on discipline or discrimination by the employer against an employee who refuses to report to work while a legal picket line exists at their place of work. “We made sure our members understood their right to respect a picket line guaranteed under the collective agreement and let them know that we would fight any discipline imposed on them,” Balmer added. After three weeks on strike, Teamsters 213 reached a mediated settlement that protected their hard earned benefits.