Strike at East Hartford Coca-Cola Plant

Bob Connors and Ilana Gold
NBC Connecticut
May 17, 2012

Workers at the Coca-Cola bottling plant in East Hartford went on strike on Wednesday, threatening to disrupt distribution of the soft drink in Connecticut.

About 350 members of the Teamsters Local 1035 walked off the job at 4 p.m. and began picketing outside the plant at 471 Main St.

Their contract expired on Dec. 4, and the union members decided to strike after no agreement could be reached after nearly six months of negotiations.

“We want our insurance that we have. We've worked hard for our insurance,” said Matt Gegliardi.

He said Coca Cola was considering a new distribution system, which means his job could get cut.

“They want companies to come pick up their soda like Walmart, then they’ll deliver it and that’s what I do,” Gegliardi said.

The drivers, mechanics, plant workers and delivery workers want better wages and better benefits, according to Chris Roos.

“What we asked for is a guarantee that no one would get laid off going forward and they said no,” Roos said.

The Teamsters will stay on the picket line until they can reach a new deal, Roos said.

This time around, the Teamsters said they’re ready for the long haul.

“Oh yes, I’m not going anywhere,” Gegliardi said.

That could mean a cola shortage in Connecticut might become a quick reality.

Workers at the same plant went on strike in 2005 for about a week and managers and sales workers made the deliveries.

The company issued a statement to the Associated Press on Wednesday night saying it is disappointed by the strike and looks forward to resuming negotiations.  The company also said there should be few, if any, disruptions to deliveries.

NBC Connecticut tried reaching Coca Cola several times for a comment on Wednesday, but calls and emails were not returned.