On the Picket Line

Illinois Teamsters end strike at American Bottling, make gains

By Dan Fein
July 23, 2018

NORTHLAKE, Ill. — “We won a victory. The new contract is good for us,” Mike Gnagni, one of some 140 truck drivers who just ended their 40-day strike against American Bottling Company, told the Militant. American Bottling is a subsidiary of the Dr. Pepper Snapple Group. The strikers are members of Teamsters Local 727 who walked the picket lines here and at the Harvey facility.

The contract was ratified at a union meeting July 1. “We got a $3.40 raise over four years — we wanted a three-year contract, but settled for four,” said Gnagni, 61, who has been a union truck driver for 40 years. “We now earn close to what the Coke and Pepsi drivers make. And the pension plan was doubled in benefits.

“The new contract keeps the health insurance plan the same,” he said. “The company wanted higher premium payments from us and less coverage, but we blocked that. We also got six sick days per year, up from four.”

“Thank you to all those in the community, our local representatives, and fellow Teamsters that supported the Union in this long hard-fought victory,” John Coli, secretary-treasurer of Local 727, said on the union website. This correspondent helped organize delegations of Walmart workers from the Villa Park and Darian stores to bring solidarity to the picketers many times.