Coca-Cola Co. has signed a settlement agreement with the National Labor Relations Board in connection with a contentious Teamsters union election at three Atlanta-area facilities.
The agreement, in which Coca-Cola does not admit to any violations of federal labor law, awaits the approval of the regional director of the National Labor Relations Board.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution has learned that the agreement would prohibit Coca-Cola from promising to resolve employee complaints if the union is rejected. The company also would not be permitted to remove union literature from employee break room tables, stop employees from posting union literature on bulletin boards, or make implied promises of benefits to discourage employees from supporting the union.
A notice to employees will be posted in public places to outline the terms of the agreement if it is approved by the labor board.
Coca-Cola pointed out that the labor board found no violations of federal law. "We believe our employees have made their wishes known through their vote last October, and we hope the Teamsters union will respect the decision made by our employees," said Charlie Sutlive, a spokesman for Coca-Cola Refreshments, the bottling division of Coca-Cola Co.
The elections in question were held in early October at bottling plants in Marietta and College Park and a small warehouse near Six Flags. More than 300 local employees cast votes to determine whether they would be represented by the Teamsters. The vote was conducted less than a week after Coca-Cola took over the facilities from bottler Coca-Cola Enterprises.
The Teamsters fell short by a combined margin of 122 to 192. The union quickly filed complaints with the federal regulator, accusing Coca-Cola of using implied threats and benefits to turn the vote in its favor.
"There is no doubt in our mind as anorganization that if Coke had respected their own policies, these workers would have voted for representation," said Ben Speight, organizing director for Teamsters Local 728.
The Teamsters represent about 14,000 people involved in the production and distribution of Coca-Cola in the United States.