“We are very proud of our Machinists members at MillerCoors in Albany, GA and the nearly 40-year relationship we have had with this company,” said IAM Southern Territory General Vice President Rickey Wallace. “Not only does the IAM produce and package this recognizable product, but we are also the consumers who buy it and drink it at home with our family and friends.”
Such sentiment kicked off the IAM’s negotiations with MillerCoors this week in Georgia where more than 400 Machinists members make sure this American product is available for thirsty consumers around the world to enjoy.
Lead negotiator and District 131 Directing Business Representative Billy Barnwell is ready to address the issues the brothers and sisters of Local 2699 want discussed at the table.
“There’s no doubt, these are some of the best paying jobs in town, but our members shouldn’t be penalized because of that fact,” said Barnwell. “These are hard-working men and women who spend day after day on their feet, often working overtime and shifts outside of their normal work week. These workers need and want a better work/life balance, which can be difficult when working for this company.”
At the table, core issues surround overtime scheduling and health care, as this company is another corporation struggling to bring health care costs under control. But as one of the leading spirit distributors in the United States, passing exorbitant costs onto employees is not an acceptable practice.
“I have two daughters and, God forbid, something should happen to them where they are hurt or need care,” said Local 2699 President Brian Fletcher. “The last thing I should be thinking about is where I am going to come up with thousands of dollars to cover the cost of the high deductible we carry on our health insurance. The same goes for my union brothers and sisters – no one should have to think about cost in that moment.”
Workers are quick to acknowledge that they are proud to represent this American brand and realize these are some of the best jobs in Albany. But that shouldn’t mean employees are left to carry the brunt of an industry that is still strong even after experiencing changing drinking trends over the last few years.
“We want the contract we negotiate over the next weeks to be a mirror of the decades of hard work and loyalty the Machinists at Local 2699 have put forward to make MillerCoors some of the most-recognizable beers in the world,” said Southern Territory Grand Lodge Representative James Little. “And that’s what we plan to bring home.”