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Coca-Cola Anti-Union Meeting

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Yesterday, Coca-Cola held a mandatory anti-union meeting in an Atlanta warehouse. The workers were not happy. You can listen to the entire thing here.

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  • Time for people to start emptying Coca-Cola “product” in the supermarket aisles.

    Screw the supermarkets too.

  • joe from Lowell

    Workers are frequently threatened and pressured by union activists in signing union cards against their wishes.

    I know, because it happened to my girlfriend. You don’t know her. She lives in another town. That you’ve never heard of.

    In Canada.

    • Is she a union supermodel?

      • joe from Lowell

        Sure, why not?

        Uh…I mean…

        • Stag Party Palin

          I did some googling. Her name is Tiffany Poutine. She was born in Ochiichagwebabigoining but lives in Wawa. She was the centrefold girl in Dissent magazine, 3rd quarter 2003.

          • Linnaeus

            I’ve been to Wawa. I don’t remember seeing union supermodels there, but that was a long time ago.

      • Judkins Major

        I don’t think I’ll be hearing a better band name today (though Young Hegelians came close).

        • “Union Supermodel Girlfriend” the follow-up failed single for Deadeye Dick/Harvey Danger/The Marvelous Three.

          • Bill Murray

            sounds more like Halifax’s The Superfriendz

            • wjts

              I think it sounds like a Stereolab album, myself.

      • Shwell Thanksh

        Wow, a thug AND a supermodel! Two words: Role model.

      • IM

        No. Morgan Fairchild

    • Lasker

      Strangely enough, this did actually happen to my girlfriend. The non-unionized non-profit she worked for merged with a larger, unionized one and all employees were told by the union they had to join the union “or else”. There was a meeting with union representatives who basically refused to answer any questions or address any concerns and were extremely rude.

      She was pretty angry about it until we went through the contract together and realized that it was a clear, though small, improvement in pay and benefits. However the fact that she signed on has damaged her relationship with the holdouts who haven’t. Nine months later, those holdouts do not seem to be in any danger of losing their jobs. And they are enjoying the benefits of the contract negotiate by the union without paying dues. While I have some sympathy for them since they never had a say I. Whether they wanted to join the union or not, and the unions initial treatment of them was shockingly poor, Thy are basically freeloading assholes.

      • wengler

        Sounds like you live in a Right-to-Work-for-Less state.

        • Nick

          Not necessarily. Agency fees need to be negotiated as part of the contract between the workers, through their union, and the employer. It’s never automatic, even in non-RTW states.

      • Big Gay Mal

        Lasker,

        The only other solution is to force individuals to join a private organization or lose their jobs.

        If you hold the rights of individuals above collective rights, then this is not a good solution for you.

        If you champion the collective at the expense of the liberty of the individual, then you would LOVE this solution (comrade).

    • Linnaeus

      Have you told Mrs. jfL?

      • joe from Lowell

        She’s also in a town in Canada you’ve never heard of. That’s where they keep the supermodels.

        • wjts

          I know it well. Here’s a picture of my Canadian girlfriend that I took on one of our many dates in that city. Which is in Canada.

          • joe from Lowell

            I know, right?

            I’ll bet the guys in your high school didn’t believe you, either!

            • wjts

              The only ones who believed me were the ones who also had secret Canadian girlfriends whom, oddly, I never met during my many trips to Canada.

              • Barry Freed

                All the Canadian girlfriends grew up on a farm near the one they send all the old/sick/unhousebroken/ill-behaved dogs so they can live free with lots of space to roam.

          • Njorl

            Is that Medicine Hat or Saskatoon?

    • AuRevoirGopher

      Workers are frequently threatened and pressured by union activists in signing union cards against their wishesreligious beliefs.

      That’s how it’s done these days.

      • Kingfish

        Look, if God wanted me to sign a union card then he’d have included one in the King James Bible.

        • IM

          A new organizing tool! splendid idea.

  • James Hare

    Manassas City has said they won’t drug and abuse the teenager in the sexting case. Not enough — the folks who thought this thing up and the officials who supported all the way up and down the chain of command need to be fired.

  • I don’t drink soda – outside of plain ol’ seltzer – so, I can’t boycott a product I already don’t use.

    And trust me, I try never to buy any other products by them, or the Koch Brothers, or any other Reich-Wing “Job Creators!”

    When you’re poor, you can still be selective.
    Just not as much so as if you’re rich…

    Those companies target us “Poors.”
    It takes some effort shopping to deny them any profits from you.

    • Jordan

      And trust me, I try never to buy any other products by them, or the Koch Brothers

      My playing of beer pong was already on a downward spiral due to getting old and boring, but it really took a nosedive after realizing solo cups were a product of the Kochs.

      • Pretend you’re a Koch. Play beer pong with Waterford crystal.

        • Jordan

          Might as well put this here.

          So, Woodrow Wilson was the president of the university at which I’m a grad student. For whatever reason, his old (very large!) office space thingy is my department’s social lounge (not the lounge where we get coffee and have our mailboxes. The lounge where we have parties).

          This means I have played beer pong, done keg stands, and beaten super mario 3 (we have a thing) in his old office. And there were minorities, women, and gay people there! I am quite sure he is happy about this in the great beyond.

          • Years ago, when the venerable San Francisco firm of Flatline, Comatose, Torpor & Drowse (BrainDead Systems following our 2003 merger with Senescent Technologies) returned from leased commercial quarters to our old building following a four-year fumigation, my old boss, an erratic and vindictive character–think Meg Whitman without the common touch– was furious to learn that I had inherited her old office furniture. Last I heard anything on the subject, she was still complaining about it five years after her retirement (it is well that I enjoyed the political protection of her boss). Perhaps she and Woody can commiserate in the afterlife.

      • UserGoogol

        It looks like Solo Cups is owned by Dart Container. Koch Industries owns Dixie Cups.

        More generally, the main division of Koch Industries which sells to the general public seems to be Georgia-Pacific, which sells a variety of popular name brand paper products. (Such as Dixie Cups.)

        • Jordan

          Harumph. Back to playing beer pong for me, then.

    • joe from Lowell

      I hope that’s unionized Polar Seltzer.

      • Davis X. Machina

        Are they unionized? That poor bear is up on the roof 24/7, in all weathers, and so far as I know Polar don’t even have a relief bear.

        • Ahuitzotl

          would you want a polar bear relieving on you? Where’s our resident expert?

  • jeer9

    Denise is an HR business professional who carefully listens to all of the complaints and problems voiced by employees whereas union reps often ignore such issues, engaging in trade-offs and compromises that frequently leave workers worse off than they were before. Your supervisors actually have your best interests at heart. And you’re already paying for protection with tax dollars through government agencies like OSHA and the National Transportation Board which are much more responsive than a politically motivated shop steward.

    Brian argues that union agreements are the result of an historical process and the Coca-Cola/union deals that have been struck in New York and California are unlikely to be enacted in Georgia because incremental improvements made through the decades cannot be instantly implemented in the South and the negotiations that might occur in Atlanta would not include such modern benefits because those regions require higher standards of living.

    We’re not for or against unions. We just want you to be informed.

    • Karen

      Why do people in Georgia deserve worse lives than those in New York and California?

      • kindness

        What I wonder is why the good people in the South choose to. Unions aren’t a panacea but they certainly have some advantages.

        • wengler

          Fear. Ignorance. Racism.

        • Ray Nagin 10

          Principles

          • jim, some guy in iowa

            do tell

            • “Devil take the hindmost” is a principle, of a sort.

              • Librul Moron

                What I wonder is why the good people in the South choose to. Unions aren’t a panacea but they certainly have some advantages.

                Yes, because I don’t understand these people ….they’ must all be just all stupid and ignorant, mostly because they are not like me.

                • N__B

                  For someone trying to make the point that you’re not a moron, you seem to have posted this in the wrong place. Maybe you should huff some more ether and try again.

            • MAJeff

              “Labor should be exploited to the greatest degree possible” is a principle.

      • NorCal

        American slavery is where I’d begin any explanation about what differentiates Georgia vis a vis the other two states.

    • postmodulator

      Sometimes I think the Human Resources profession is the single greatest scam ever perpetrated on late capitalist society. Then I remember there’s lots of others, but all those people still suck.

      • Christina

        You know, I actually took a position in HR at a company because they sucked so hard. We had a lot of assemblers on the line who had been there for years but were still classified as “temporary.” No benefits, no reviews, no raises. This was at a tiny little “research” facility of Ingersoll-Rand. (They called it R&D, but they produced well established products 24/7.) I brought it to I-R’s attention that the employees weren’t receiving the benefits in the employee handbook (which was never distributed there), and they were very eager to let me bring everyone up to speed. I enrolled them in med/dent/vision plans, got them raises, made them regular employees, 401K, pension, vacation & holiday pay, the works. I started out as an assembler myself, and I knew what it was like to work the line. I don’t know where companies find the sadists to work in their HR departments, but some of us genuinely care about our coworkers.

        • joe from Lowell

          Wow.

          I really, really want to believe this story is true. It’s the best thing I’ve read in days.

        • Archibald Mirenopteryx

          If this is true, that makes you the rarest of diamonds in a vast field of coal. My nearly universal experience is that HR people exist for the sole purpose of working the will of, and making things more convenient for, management. They occasionally get so full of themselves they’ll go off on their own tangent. I’ve been in HR’s sights more then once and it’s never, ever pleasant – one recent example had an HR department trying to fire me for having a disability, against my manager’s direct wishes, just because they could. Nasty, nasty people.

          If even a few were more like you, HR wouldn’t have the infamous reputation that they have.

          • Dave W.

            Christina’s story isn’t incompatible with HR serving the will of management. If the status of those workers was an oversight, rather than intentional management policy, sufficiently enlightened management might have realized that she had defused a potential lawsuit time bomb that might have awarded several years of retroactive pay and benefits (plus bad publicity), while raising employee morale and leaving the employees thinking that the company was really looking out for their interests.

            • Terry Teagle

              I think Dave is pretty on-track here. While working for the State of North Carolina in a long-term temp position, someone pointed out that this sort of arrangement for longer than a year was counter to state law (and many people had been doing it much longer than me) and threatened a lawsuit. So NC proceeded to furlough all the temps for a month to break their service time and start them over again. Later, they just ended up laying everyone off, but I had skedaddled by then. So I guess you’d still have to give I-R a little credit for not being that venal. This was before NC went totally cuckoo too.

            • Archibald Mirenopteryx

              Good point. I guess that the real cynicism wasn’t so much that Christina was really going above and beyond the call of duty, but that ANY crop of managers would actually look out for their workers at any time, in any workplace, in this economy.

              And I probably SHOULDN’T be entirely cynical about that. My most infamous HR run-ins were BOTH instances that they went against my boss’ (and my boss’ boss’) wishes, and practically begged me to file a discrimination lawsuit. It was only when very senior management smacked them down that they got off my case. For all they work the will of management, HR can get drunk on their own institutional power.

              • LeftWingFox

                There are certainly individual companies which care for their employees and want to do well by them. I’ve worked for several of them.

                The problem is that they’re under economic pressure from bad actors who benefit from fucking people over to the maximum extent the law allows. I’ve worked for a few of those too.

                • N__B

                  IMO, based solely on personal anecdote, is that mid-sized companies are felling that pressure the worst. I think that we’re going to see a future of behemoths and little guys without much in-between because the little guys (hi there!) can be more efficient on overhead and so can pay decent salaries and benefits without losing money while the big guys will compete on crushing the earth flat. Mid-size companies have overhead more in line with the big companies (HR departments, for example) without the economies of scale that come from destroying people’s lives.

                  In other words, I agree completely about bad actors forcing well-intentioned managers at other companies into a lose-money-or-screw-employees bind. I just don’t think it’s true across the spectrum.

    • wjts

      Denise also wants the employees to understand that everyone at Coca-Cola is part of one big team, and that she, as a teammate, wants to help the warehouse employees and everyone else on the Coca-Cola team to win. Exactly how one “wins” at distributing Coca-Cola is unclear. She also stresses that if the workers unionize and allow the Teamsters to engage in collective bargaining on behalf of the workers, then the workers will lose the personal relationship they have with Human Resources Business Partners such as herself. This relationship is so close that Denise the Human Resources Business Partner can’t remember the employees’ names.

      • Nobdy

        Has anyone ever been fooled by this personal relationship with your employer crud when your employer is Coca-Cola? Does anyone feel like they have a personal relationship with the human resources drones?

        Who hears these things and says “You know, my employer has a real point. I love interacting with Denise when, for example, she tells me about the Company’s various new initiatives.”

        I think these meetings read like what they are. Intimidation.

        • Barry Freed

          Your Own Personal Human Resources Business Partner.

          • Nobdy

            You better not reach out and touch Faith or you’re going to have to spend a Saturday at a “proper office behavior” meeting in Cobb County.

            • wjts

              I just can’t enough Depeche Mode jokes.

              • Nobdy

                Sounds like you’re pursuing a policy of truth regarding your strange love of Depeche Mode based humor.

                All I ever wanted, all I ever needed, was some appreciation for Depeche Mode comedy. I guess it was just a question of time until one of these jokes hit.

                It seems that when it comes to laughter I should learn to enjoy the silence?

                • wjts

                  OK, turns out I CAN get enough Depeche Mode jokes.

                • Sagas

                  Full of win.

          • Gregor Sansa

            Your Plastic Pal who’s Fun to Be With!

        • Fake Irishman

          Probably in this case it’s read as intimidation, but in other cases — especially where workers perceive they have some status — the appeal can work. I remember trying to organize Graduate Research Assistants at a major university. Crap like this was something HR pulled all the time.

          • wjts

            I have had a few jobs where the employer was small enough that I’m not sure joining a union, and thereby putting a third party in the middle of my “negotiations” with “management”, would have been particularly useful: a couple of local businesses, fringe-to-mid-sized theater companies, things like that. But if your employer is big enough to have a dedicated HR department (and especially if they have a “Human Resources Business Partner”), there’s a very good chance workers will benefit from union representation.

        • Brad Nailer

          When I got hired by Big Box Home Improvement Store a few years ago, the first thing I had to do was sit through a 15-minute video entitled, more or less, “Why we don’t need a union.” I was so happy to finally have a real job after being unemployed and working temp for three years that I can’t even remember what the fuck it said.

      • Davis X. Machina

        Denise also wants the employees to understand that everyone at Coca-Cola is part of one big team


        Everything is awesome.
        Everything is cool when you’re part of a team.

        • Patrick Phelan

          Fitting in is our dream!

        • So-in-so

          There is no “I” in “Team”, so phrases like “I need to earn more money” or “I need better benefits” have no meaning.

          The executives are coaches, not team members, so it’s the I’s have it all the way.

    • Tristan

      Denise is an HR business professional who carefully listens to all of the complaints and problems voiced by employees

      Bigfoot is a large bipedal hominid that ranges the northwestern quarter of North America

    • Tristan

      you’re already paying for protection with tax dollars through government agencies like OSHA and the National Transportation Board

      Support unions, shrink big government

  • howard

    coke management, meanwhile, recently pushed through a compensation scheme that was so brazen that even a highly regarded money manager called it “outrageous and excessive.”

    • Nobdy

      Shares are down 3% over the past year. You think that kind of stellar performance comes cheap? The wonderful executive team is providing amazing value for Shareholders and deserves to be showered with cash.

      When’s the last time a non-executive employee ever contributed anything to a company’s bottom line? Never. They just want free birth control. The average working stiff is a TAKER!

      • Warren Terra

        Notoriously, the stock price of Coca Cola Enterprises is set at the whim of Headquarters. They run what is essentially one company in two parts: Coca-Cola Enterprises, and Coca-Cola Bottling. One rents the formula to the other, which then uses the formula to sell syrup. As you might expect, this means hat for a given amount of revenue th profits can go entirely to one company or to the other, or be split according to any ratio. Thus the stock price of one part of the company means little.

        • NorthLeft12

          That kind of corporate configuration is how our corporate/financial overlords demonstrate their innovation and importance to our economy.

          Nevermind that it adds absolutely zero value to the customer, the fact that this parasitic entity funnels large amounts of cash to the chosen few is reason enough I guess.

    • patrick II

      In a March 21 letter to Coca-Cola’s board of directors, Winters characterizes the proposal as an “outrageous grab” and an “excessive transfer of wealth” from Coca‐Cola shareholders to the company’s senior management.

      I suppose it will be a cold day in hell before one of these guys writes it is an “outrageous grab” and an “excessive transfer of wealth” from Coca-Cola shareholders and employees to the company’s senior management.

      • Brad Nailer

        Thank you. And I’m sure that many of those employees are also shareholders, participating in the company’s 401k program. Not that that’s bad altogether, but if I had to choose between a normal 401k program, where the benefits, if they come at all, will come years down the road, and a nice pay raise that would reflect immediately the increased value of the company that’s come through my work and that of my comrades . . . er, I mean fellow employees, I know which one I would take.

  • DrDick

    Why am I not surprised that a Southern corporation in the “food” business would do this.

    • Librul Moron

      We fucked up in not allowing the South to secede. Now, they won’t vote the way we want them to.

  • Amanda in the South Bay

    It happened to me at Whole Foods, Palo Alto in 2009 IIRC. Come on, there must be lots of Stanford/Palo Alto residents and Whole Foods shoppers in general here I can guilt into being BAD progressives.

    • Is the Palo Alto CO-OP still around?

      • Amanda in the South Bay

        I want to say…no, but I tend to strictly avoid Palo Alto since I’ve moved on from WF.

        • Yeah, good idea. We’re all utter monsters.

          • Jordan

            There are guys in the background of Mary Worth comics who are more important than you!

      • joel hanes

        The Co-Op on Middlefield ?
        Nope, folded more than a decade ago.

        A little Googling convinces me that the Berekeley Co-Op has folded as well.

        The core people from the PA Co-Op still all go to a family camp in cabins in the Sierra for a couple weeks each summer. Goddamned hippies, always doing good and having fun and stuff instead of getting and spending like Real Americans.

        • Yeah, Berkley had a very nice CO-OP.

        • Nick

          The Berkeley Coop was taken over years and years ago by Park and Shop, which then morphed into Andronico’s. It’s still there on Cedar and Shattuck. The workers there are UFCW members.

    • Jordan

      Yeah, if anyone can guilt people for being anti-union, it is definitely you.

      • Indeed, perhaps she can go on another rant about the evils of BART workers.

        • Her work is more important than the workers petty battles over their pay and working conditions.

  • joel hanes

    Nope. I was living in Palo Alto when WF took over the existing “Wild Oats” — we quit shopping there.

    I was a Food Villa [local chain] partisan while it existed; I loved Cosentino’s Market while that existed; now I’m shopping mostly at union-shop Safeway, with side-trips to Nob Hill and Draegers and Trader Joe’s and Schaubs and Dittmer’s for specialty items.

    Know anything about Sprouts? One of my friends likes them …

    • I do my shopping at Piazza’s, which is also a union shop, and is a locally-owned non chain store.

    • Anonymous

      Sprouts and Henry’s are both non-union and owned by Apollo Capital.

      • joel hanes

        Thanks. I’ll avoid Sprouts.

  • In other union news, BAM. It’s not over ’till it’s over, Tennesee.

    • Jordan

      huh. Hope that works out well!

      • Jordan

        Unlike exclusive representation, any contract approved with the UAW at the Chattanooga plant under this setup would apply only to union members, Casteel said.

        “This is a good thing for us because it’s members-only bargaining, and our members might get something in the contract that the rest of the employees won’t get.”

        Wait, is that for real? How is that not a possibility/probability elsewhere (I thought it was illegal?). Someone help out this idiot, please.

        • Brandon

          Basically everywhere else, unions negotiate the contract for the entire relevant part of the work force, whether they’re union or not. They also represent them in grievances. In exchange, in non-Right-To-Work states, unions can still collect a fee from non-members who still benefit from representation. Conversely, Right-To-Work states still require unions to negotiate for and represent non-members, but they can’t collect anything from them. It’s done to intentionally create a free-rider problem and undermine unions.

          • Jordan

            Right, that is what I always thought. But that quote says that the union can negotiate only for its members.

            • KIthKanan

              The impression I’m getting is that UAW is doing this with the full cooperation of VW? I don’t think without legal recognition that they can force VW into anything (and the protections for UAW members are presumably significantly less than they would be for a recognized union), but I’m not sure if there’s any reason VW can’t completely voluntarily negotiate with the “union” regarding the labor conditions for those specific employees if both the employees and VW agree to the arrangement?

              • Linnaeus

                It looks like what the UAW is doing here is following a “minority unionism” model, in which they form a union even though they don’t have recognition as the exclusive bargaining agent for the workers at the VW plant, either through an election or employer recognition that they represent a majority of workers.

                If the UAW were the exclusive bargaining agent, they would have a duty of fair representation to all workers in the bargaining unit, whether those workers were members or not. But since the UAW isn’t the exclusive bargaining agent, they’re setting up a union that they hope will eventually gain majority support, but in the meantime they will probably try to push VW to implement some of things they were hoping to get in contract negotiations after recognition. VW is under no legal obligation to negotiate with an unrecognized union, but may decide to do so voluntarily (note that this is not the same as voluntary recognition of an exclusive bargaining agent, which VW could have done before, but did not).

                The basis for this is that, under US labor law, workers in any workplace have the right to engage in “concerted activity”, i.e., they can get together in groups to put pressure on their employers to raise wages, improve safety and working conditions, etc. Legally, workers cannot be fired for doing this, though I’m sure some employers have tried and I’m also sure they’ve found other reasons to get rid of workers who engaged in this kind of activism.

                As far as I know, the UAW hasn’t tried this since its earliest days – you usually want exclusivity because then the employer has to negotiate with you and you hope to eventually produce a legally binding agreement. I’m pretty sure UFCW has been pursuing this kind of strategy for a while, though.

                • Bingo!

                  And yes, it’s highly unusual, in no small part because the employer doesn’t have to participate if they don’t want to.

              • Yes. VW wants a union, because in the U.S works councils without the existence of an independent union are considered company unions and are illegal under the NLRA. But nothing says the independent union has to be the exclusive bargaining agent.

                • Jordan

                  Ah ok, that makes sense. Thanks for confirming!

  • DAS

    Why did the chemist eschew electrolytes?

    She wished to remain unionized

    • Shwell Thanksh

      I see what you did there.

  • VCarlson

    I just want to know what Coca-Cola’s religious views are. I assume some flavor of Babtist, of course. And does it attend church only on Christmas and Easter?

    • Big Gay Mal

      Does Coca-Cola have 5 owners or less and classified as ‘closely-held’?

      If not, it doesn’t matter, does it?

      • les

        Yet.

      • Barry

        See Wheaton College.

      • Malaclypse

        Apparently, I need to once again point out that I’m never going to fuck you, no matter how large a role I play in your obsessions.

  • Gwen

    Oh, how I would love to believe that unified Dem control of the federal government would fix things, starting with a repeal of Taft-Hartley.

    Of course, we all know this will never happen… even if you had an all-Dem Congress some asshole from Arkansas would be jumping up and down about “union thuggery.”

  • keith howard

    Coke, thus company is greedy and sick. It’s hard to believe that a company as well knownas Coca Cola can be so heartless. SICK!

  • Matthew johns

    This should be against the law.

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