MINNEAPOLIS (AP) -- More than 400 members of Teamsters Local 792 went on strike Sunday night at the Pepsi bottling plant in Burnsville that serves the Twin Cities metropolitan area, union and company officials said.
And Teamsters voted to reject a contract offer at the Coca-Cola plant in the nearby suburb of Eagan on Sunday, meaning they could strike as early as Monday, Local 792 Secretary-Treasurer Larry Yoswa said.
''The Twin Cities area and their suburbs could see a big shortage of Pepsi and Coke really quick,'' Yoswa said.
Pickets went up at the Pepsi plant at 8 p.m. and about 65 people were walking the line outside the gates, he said. Workers spent the night walking picket lines at the plant's several entrances, local television stations reported early Monday.
No new talks were scheduled.
Yoswa said they overwhelmingly rejected last week what the company called its final offer. He said Pepsi failed to address the union's concerns regarding pensions, health insurance, wages and the loss of bargaining unit work.
The strike will affect deliveries of Pepsi products across the entire Twin Cities metropolitan area, he said.
The plant is owned by Pepsi Bottling Group, of Somers, N.Y., a publicly traded company that was partly spun off last year from PepsiCo Inc., of Purchase, N.Y.
''Pepsi Bottling Group has negotiated in good faith on these contract issues, and unfortunately the union has decided to go on strike,'' said Kelly McAndrew, a spokeswoman for the bottling company. ''We are taking the necessary steps to ensure our products reach our customers''
McAndrew said the plant will continue to operate, mainly with management personnel. She declined to speculate on whether any shortages would result from an extended strike.
Local 792 represents manufacturing workers, loaders, delivery salesmen and vending machine technicians who operate out of the Burnsville plant. The plant's products are also distributed elsewhere in Minnesota, Yoswa said.
Yoswa said the workers want a pension package that would allow them to retire before age 62 without penalties, and without having to struggle financially. He said very few delivery drivers make it to the normal retirement age, partly because of injuries. The workers' pension benefits currently average $43 per week per year of service; the company offered to increase that to $50, he said.
The company offered hourly workers only a 2.9 percent increase per year over a three-year contract, Yoswa said. He said management failed to offer an increase in health insurance contributions, and workers who now pay an average of $40 a week toward their insurance fear rising health care costs will come out of their pockets.
Another issue, he said, is ''commissary delivery.'' Pepsi wants to send its fountain products in bulk to central warehouses for big accounts such as Burger King and Taco Bell. That would hurt union drivers because they work on commission, Yoswa said.
Mediation was due to resume Monday for more than 550 members of Local 792 who work at the Midwest Coca-Cola Bottling Co. plant in Eagan, which produces the majority of Coke products for Minnesota and also supplies parts of Wisconsin, Iowa and the Dakotas.
If those talks break down, the Coca-Cola workers could strike as early as Monday, he said.
But Kevin Morris, a spokesman for the Coke bottler, said the company doesn't anticipate any work stoppage.
''We are disappointed that the union members have chosen not to accept the offer,'' Morris said. ''We are hopeful for a resolution in the near future.''
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