Behind the Closed Doors at a Coca-Cola Anti-Union Meeting: Workers Push Back

by Stuart Elliott

In the vast majority of union organizing drives, the company calls mandatory meetings to deliver its anti-union message.  Increasingly, workers are standing up and sharing their experiences with the closed meetings. Recorded on July 9, 2014 in Atlanta, GA at the South Metro distribution center in College Park. Here Coca Cola’s Director of Labor Relations Brian LaVelle and his assistant force workers to attend a mandatory (mis)’information session’ about the Teamsters union. Listen when workers push back and demand to know how much the union busters get paid for running such meetings. Powerful audio here. Go behind closed doors at Coke’s anti-union meetings.

LaVelle describes union dues paid to the international union as a “kickback.”  LaVelle intimates that unions often fines members. One worker points out that the Teamsters Local 728 had no income from fines. Another asks what is LaVellle’s salary and he refuses. A worker says that no-one represents him and that he would like to have someone to represent him. Later a worker asks if Coca-Cola will bring down workers from the company’s unionized plants to talk to workers in Georgia. A worker says it seems like a majority of workers coming together will get more results than individuals pursuing complaints individually.  Other questions raise the point that the union doesn’t have equal access to talk to workers and wonder why Coke’s HR department doesn’t put as much effort into solving problems as it does in fighting the union.

It takes the HR people an extra 20 minutes to deal with the good questions from workers.

A Southern Workers’ Movement Can Change the Nation

by Eric Fink

OrganizeTheSouth-640_Feb17“Organize the South” was the call on Monday evening February 17 in Durham, North Carolina, where an overflow crowd gathered for a discussion on “How a Southern Workers’ Movement Can Change the Nation.” Worker advocates and adversaries alike have identified the South as a crucial battleground in the fight to reverse the long decline of the U.S. labor movement. This Fall, the AFL-CIO committed itself “to develop a Southern organizing strategy” as “one of its top priorities”. The UAW’s bid to represent workers at the Volkswagen plant in Chattanooga, Tennessee became a focal point in that fight, and the union’s narrow defeat in last week’s NLRB representation vote has led some to suggest–dolefully in the case of union supporters, cheerfully in the case of union busters–that a southern organizing strategy remains futile.

The panelists at Monday’s event in Durham rejected that pessimistic conclusion. Their common message was that unions can win in the South, and doing so is an essential part of the broader goal of defeating the reactionary political and economic agenda nationwide. The key to labor’s success in the South is cultivating and mobilizing community support for workers’ rights to organize and bargain collectively for better wages and working conditions.

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Organize the South Feb 17

#OrganizetheSouth panelist Chris Kromm of the Institute for Southern Studies knows a lot about how organized greed – personified in North Carolina by Art Pope – can buy influence when left unchecked.

Come to the NC AFL-CIO panel at Duke on Feb. 17 to hear what Chris has to say about why the powerful would fear a resurgent organized opposition. RSVP at http://bit.ly/otsduke — with Chris Kromm.

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On Feb.17, the N.C. State AFL-CIO is sponsoring a panel, hosted at the Duke Center for Documentary Studies, focused on organizing labor in the South.

Speakers include Chris Kromm, executive director of the Institute for Southern Studies, Angaza Laughinghouse, president of the UE Local 150 of North Carolina Public Service Workers Union, and Justin Flores, vice president of the Farm Labor Organizing Committee.