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Coca-Cola Has Taken ‘Egregious’ Actions Against Workers

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Coca-Cola is the subject of numerous federal complaints filed Tuesday by the Teamsters over alleged violations of worker protection laws.

The complaints focus on Coca-Cola workers at two Illinois facilities. It alleges the company bargained in bad faith, intimidated workers and unilaterally changed contract terms and working conditions. Local 727 of the union represents 300 warehouse, production and transport workers at the two locations. The two sides are currently negotiating for a new labor agreement.

“Coca-Cola Refreshments has committed one egregious unfair labor practice after another in an attempt to derail contract negotiations,” Local 727 president John Coli Jr. says in a statement. “The Teamsters won’t be intimidated.”

The final round of negotiations is scheduled for Nov. 30. It is not unusual for contract talks to be prolonged past when the previous agreement expires. In such an event, the company and union can agree to extend the previous agreement or employees can agree to keep working. In some cases, however, workers may vote to go on strike to put pressure on the company or union to reach a new agreement. Strikes are more likely to occur if one side in the negotiations is seen as undermining the process.

“Our union has a proven record of standing up to corporate bullies to protect working families,” Coli says. “Our members in Niles and Alsip won’t be taken advantage of.”

The complaints include a long list of labor law violations. It claims the company threatened workers with job loss for engaging with the union, intimidated workers who wear union gear and bargained with no actual intentions of reaching a new labor agreement. The union also claims the company unilaterally changed the terms and conditions of the agreement still in effect as well as denying multiple information requests made by the union. Coca-Cola is denying the allegation.

“Teamsters Local 727’s choice of tactics is unfortunate,” a company representative told The Daily Caller News Foundation. “However, while we will vigorously defend against these unsubstantiated allegations, our primary focus remains on bargaining in good faith with Teamsters Local 727 to reach an equitable deal for our employees and their members.”

Local 727 wrote Nov. 5 that the company has on numerous occasions cut meeting short. During some of the short meetings, the two sides only got the chance to discuss one contract provision despite a long list that needed to be addressed. Lingering issues include how to handle shift preferences, adjustments to the grievance procedure, mechanics testing, scheduling, and employees being guaranteed 40-hour workweeks.

The company is based in Atlanta. The current dispute is not the first time the Teamsters and Coca-Cola have been at odds. The union alleged in March of 2013 that the company led a smear campaign against unionized workers at its Las Vegas facility. It also claimed in April of 2010 that mismanagement could destroy jobs and undermine workers’ rights throughout the entire company.

Coca-Cola did not respond to a request for comment by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

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