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Union delivery drivers in Columbia, Jefferson City on strike following months of contract negotiations

Members of the Teamsters Local 833 have been on strike for three days after months of contract negotiations with N.H. Scheppers Distributing failed.
Black and Gold Tavern
Members of the Teamsters Local 833 have been on strike for three days after months of contract negotiations with N.H. Scheppers Distributing failed.

COLUMBIA, Mo. (KMIZ)

Union delivery drivers in Jefferson City and Columbia entered their third day of strike on Wednesday after months of contract negotiations with local distributor N.H. Scheppers Distributing failed.

A union representative for the Teamsters Local 833 told ABC 17 that the workers need a raise after wages stagnated four years ago.

Mark Bruemmer, the union's local representative, said he wants to secure a three-year contract with wage increases each year -- five percent in the first year and three percent for the next two years.

The union members can be seen during the day in front of the Black and Gold Tavern in Columbia holding signs that say "Employees of N.H. Scheppers Distributing On Strike."

Founded in 1950, Scheppers Distributing has warehouses in Jefferson City and Columbia and supplies beer, wine and non-alcoholic beverages to customers in 10 Mid-Missouri counties, according to the company's website. The company distributes more than 40 products from local, regional and international brands.

Company spokesman Joe Priesmeyer said in a statement, the company has worked long and hard to come to an agreement.

"We have been in good faith negotiations with the union dating back to Jan. 7 of this year, and have spent many, many hours with the goal of reaching a negotiated agreement that is both fair and representative of the labor markets that exist within our industry," Priesmeyer said.

The company even brought in a federal mediator but negotiations stalled out, according to the statement.

Priesmeyer went on to say that Scheppers made its highest contract offer in the company's history working with the union during the negotiations. The offer from Scheppers Distributing was not included in the statement.

According to both Priesmeyer and Bruemmer, the working relationship between the union and Scheppers has existed for decades, going as far back as the 1960s.

The union workers' wages flatlined during the last round of negotiations in 2017. Bruemmer said the union agreed to pause raises because Scheppers Distributing's business had fallen.

Now, Bruemmer said it's time for the company to pay up.

"Everyday, prices are increasing for everything," Bruemmer said.

Both sides have said they want the stirke to end and come to a deal, however, it's unclear when that will happen.

"We'd love to come to a resolution but we haven't heard from (Scheppers Distributing) when we can restart negotiations," Bruemmer said.

Priesmeyer said the company will continue fulfilling orders while the strike goes on.

"While a quick end to the strike would be preferable, we are open and will continue servicing our customers with minimum disruptions to the marketplace," Priesmeyer said.

Economy / Jefferson City / Money / News / Top Stories

Matt Ragsdale

Matt Ragsdale is a broadcast and digital producer at ABC 17 News.

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