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West Virginia Teamsters Kick Off 'Miller Beer is Tasteless' Protests

Employees at Miller's West Virginia Distributor Fight for Health Care and Livable Wages

CHARLESTON, W.Va., June 13 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Workers at the West Virginia distributor of Miller and Coors beers will kick off a summer handbilling series at local bars and restaurants today. The workers say they want to bring attention to contract demands by SABMiller's West Virginia distributor, Capitol Beverage Company, that would hike workers' cost for family health care.

Approximately 30 workers, represented by Teamsters Local Union 175, will distribute handbills outside a busy strip of bars and restaurants in downtown Charleston. The leaflets read, "Cutting Health Care at Miller Beer is Tasteless." The summer leafleting series comes after Capitol Beverage broke off negotiations with its workers on May 2, 2008, in an attempt to force them to accept grossly substandard wages and health care coverage.

Capitol wants to pay its Miller and Coors beer drivers 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.

"Coca-Cola, Budweiser and Pepsi are willing to pay their employees the industry standard for the beverage market and provide them with good benefits," said Ken Hall, Teamsters International Vice President and President of Local 175. "Miller's distributor needs to stop being greedy and step up to the plate."

The dispute could lead to a strike against Capitol, a company founded in 1935 that now delivers a variety of beers -- including Corona and Guinness -- along with Miller and Coors to state retailers.

"We aren't asking for too much," said Mike Clark, a 23-year employee with Capitol Beverage. "We just want respect and a fair contract that lets us share in the success we helped create."

Founded in 1903, the Teamsters Union represents more than 1.4 million hardworking men and women in the United States and Canada.

SOURCE International Brotherhood of Teamsters
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