Striking workers at Coca-Cola Enterprises' facilities in the US are to return to work. Staff at sites in Connecticut and Los Angeles have voted by an overwhelming majority to ratify new agreements with CCE. The new contracts call for an across the board increase in wages, the maintenance of their current health care plan and an increase in their pension.

"It was a tough fight, but our members stayed committed to seeing this though to the end," said Jim Santangelo, president of Joint Council 42 and secretary-treasurer of Local 848, said in a statement released yesterday (5 June). "There was too much at stake for us not to take a stand."

"This is a big win for the Coca-Cola drivers, warehousemen and vending machine drivers in our union," said Chris Roos, president of Local 1035 in Hartford. "We went back and forth with the company, but in the end it was our persistence that counted."

"Our brothers and sisters did a terrific job negotiating and the picketing targets were very effective," said Jack Cipriani, director of the Teamsters Brewery and Soft Drink Workers Conference.

"Coca-Cola is a large company and we really have to watch them at every bargaining session because they always want to cut costs. With these contracts we were able to win an increase in wages and strengthened benefits for our members, the most important things to us."

The workers downed tools late last month in protest over the breakdown of contract negotiations and Coke's continuing push to have workers pay more for their healthcare benefits, the workers' union said.