Metro Detroit Teamsters-7 Up strike ends after 21 days

MLK holiday, two-tier wage structure issues resolved

By: - April 2, 2021 1:56 pm

Teamsters Local 337 on strike over wages and recognition of the Martin Luther King Jr. Day holiday | Ken Coleman photo

The Teamsters Local 337 strike against Keurig Dr Pepper (KDP) that owns 7 Up has ended after 21 days.

The metro Detroit union and the Texas-based company agreed to several terms that had placed production at the Redford Township 7 Up plant at a standstill since March 11. The two sides had battled over a two-tier wage structure, Martin Luther King Jr. holiday pay, and a driver classification proposal. The impasse has attracted federal, state and local officials, as well as community organizations to the picket line to support the workers.

As for the MLK holiday, the union had rejected a management proposal that required it as one of the nine allotted paid holidays. The union wanted the MLK holiday officially recognized as an additional paid day off. It also proposed that MLK day remain available for request as a paid personal leave day. KDP accepted that proposal. 

In a statement posted Thursday on its Facebook page, Local 337 wrote:

“Last night KDP accepted the union’s proposal to end the strike and resolve the outstanding issues, including but not limited to the MLK holiday…We are proud of our membership at 7Up Detroit, they stood up and achieved their goals. The Detroit Labor Community played a big part in this fight. The food, firewood, propane, and solidarity provided the energy needed. A special thanks goes to the UAW, your membership came out strong. We also acknowledge the Democratic politicians of Michigan who stood by us from day one, we won’t forget them at election time. To our family and friends in the community, thank you for sharing our situation on social media and supporting the boycott.”

A call to Teamsters Local 337 has not been returned. 

Vicki Draughn, KDP vice president of corporate communications, stated that KDP is “pleased to have reached a new long-term” deal with the union local.

“It is unfortunate that this strike impacted our employees, as we negotiated in good faith throughout the process and strongly believe we could have come to an agreement without a strike,” said Draughn in a written statement.

She also said that the agreement continues with the existing seniority-based tier 1 and tier 2 wage structure that has been in place since 2008. The union had argued during the strike that the structure disproportionately impacted lesser-tenured workers who tend to be people of color. 

KDP will also continue to pay “above-market wages and provide the company with the flexibility needed to better serve our customers and compete in our very competitive industry,” said Draughn.

Finally, KDP had proposed a plan to give it flexibility to use drivers without commercial driver’s licenses. The union had pushed back on that approach and had concerns about safety. However, the union ultimately agreed to a deal that provided that option.  


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Ken Coleman
Ken Coleman

Ken Coleman covers Southeast Michigan, economic justice and civil rights. He is a former Michigan Chronicle senior editor and served as the American Black Journal segment host on Detroit Public Television. He has written and published four books on black life in Detroit, including Soul on Air: Blacks Who Helped to Define Radio in Detroit and Forever Young: A Coleman Reader. His work has been cited by the Detroit News, Detroit Free Press, History Channel and CNN. Additionally, he was an essayist for the award-winning book, Detroit 1967: Origins, Impacts, Legacies. Ken has served as a spokesperson for the Michigan Democratic Party, Detroit Public Schools, U.S. Sen. Gary Peters and U.S. Rep. Brenda Lawrence. Previously to joining the Advance, he worked for the Detroit Federation of Teachers as a communications specialist. He is a Historical Society of Michigan trustee and a Big Brothers Big Sisters of Metropolitan Detroit advisory board member.