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Teamsters' Coca-Cola Contract Includes Better Pay, Benefits

By Ronald D. White
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Issue: 6/7/05
Los Angeles Times

CALIFORNIA — The Teamsters union ended a two-week strike against Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc. on Sunday after approving a five-year contract that called for improvements in health benefits and an 85-cent-an-hour annual pay raise, a union local official said Monday.

"It was a good offer. It's a very good package," said Rene Medrano, secretary-general of Local 896 of the International Brotherhood of Teamsters.

Local 896 on Thursday had initially rejected the contract offer after three other locals approved it, thus prolonging the walkout that began May 23. But Local 896 members changed their minds and approved the deal Sunday after the union leadership did a better job of selling its terms, Medrano said.

Medical benefits had been a key sticking point in the negotiations. Among other things, the new contract includes reducing out-of-pocket costs for hospital and emergency room visits and reducing doctor visit costs to $15 from $35, Medrano said.

In the first year of the 85-cent raise, 45 cents will be designated to the Teamsters health and welfare fund and 40 cents will go into wage increases, he said.

Teamsters drivers and warehouse workers now earn an average of $18.37 to $19.17 an hour, a Teamster spokesperson said.

Coca-Cola Enterprises executives could not be reached for comment.

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