The North Carolina State Bureau of Employment Programs Board of Review ruled that the Teamsters are eligible for unemployment benefits. The drivers and warehouse workers will collect $318 in weekly benefits dating to March 14, when the walkout started.
"We are disappointed in what is obviously an outrageous decision," Allison Patient, a spokeswoman for Coca-Cola Bottling Co. told the Associated Press. "These people are not unemployed. They are on strike. Striking workers should not be allowed to receive unemployment compensation."
Ken Hall, president of Teamsters Local 175 in Charleston, who has led negotiations on behalf of Coca-Cola workers in Huntington, said the ruling is a "great victory."
The strike began when 38 workers in Huntington unanimously rejected a contract giving them lower wages than Coca-Cola workers in Charleston and Logan. Employees at company warehouses in Charleston, Logan, Clarksburg, Parkersburg and Bluefield honored picket lines by Huntington workers.