CHARLESTON, W.Va., June 24 /TMRzoo.com/ — More than 10 billboards proclaiming that “Miller is Tasteless” went up across West Virginia today to protest efforts by Capitol Beverage Company, a distributor of Miller and Coors products in the state, to force its Teamster employees to accept grossly substandard wages and an expensive family health care plan.
The large roadside billboards read “Tell Miller: Destroying West Virginia Jobs is Tasteless.” Teamsters Local 175 in Charleston has represented Miller drivers and warehouse workers for over 30 years.
Capitol wants to pay its Miller and Coors delivery drivers and warehousemen up to 40 percent less than other beverage distributors in the area and force longtime employees to pay as much as $11,000 a year for family health care. Capitol’s plan would also eliminate health care coverage for retired Miller and Coors beer delivery drivers.
After Miller delivery workers voted to reject the company’s contract offer last month, Jim Waugh, the owner of Capitol Beverage, threatened to permanently replace workers who exercise their right to strike. Capitol’s employees have filed charges with the National Labor Relations Board charging the company with violating federal labor law and refusing to bargain in good faith.
“We’ve made every effort to work with Miller’s distributor to negotiate a fair contract that positions the company as the premier distributor of Miller Beer in West Virginia and meets the standards set by its competitors,” said Ken Hall, Teamsters International Vice President and President of Local 175. “Unfortunately, the company seems to be more interested in bullying workers than negotiating a contract that provides a fair living for hard working Miller delivery drivers and warehousemen.”
The dispute could lead to a strike against Capitol, a company founded in 1935 that now delivers a variety of beers — including Corona, Old Milwaukee and Guinness — along with Miller and Coors, to state retailers.
“Miller and Capitol Beverage generate millions of dollars in profits in West Virginia every year,” said Luke Farley, a Local 175 representative. “Both of these companies can afford to provide good jobs that support local families.”
Within the next two weeks, Local 175 will begin placing additional billboards in Morgantown Charleston and other areas in the state.
The Teamsters Union was founded in 1903 and represents more than 1.4 million hardworking men and women throughout the United States, Canada and Puerto Rico.
Source: International Brotherhood of Teamsters