As if there weren't already enough reasons to boycott coca-cola, there is now another one. According to a Seattle news broadcast this morning, coca-cola is closing 3 plants in Washington (Aberdeen, Bellingham, and Marysville) despite having negotiated with striking workers. These plants will close permanently on September 17th, 2010. Not all of the employees will be laid off, as some will be offered different jobs at nearby plants.... I wonder if the new jobs will still be unionized positions.
The main issue in the strike was the company's attempt to raise insurance premiums for workers. Far from a small increase, workers insurance rate would increase as much as 800% and retirees would no longer be able to buy in to the health care program. Coca-cola cancelled the striking workers' benefits, leaving them without any health care and forcing them to return to work prior to bargaining, which left them in a tough position at the bargaining table. The strikers then filed a class action lawsuit and unfair labour practices against the company for cancelling benefits.
Coca-cola had revenues of $31 billion in 2009. I find it difficult to believe that they could not afford to maintain previous benefit levels or keep these three plants open. The Bellingham plant has been open since 1905.
A company spokeman cited a new tax as a reason for closing plants. This tax will cost them a total of 2 cents per can (that will likely be passed on to consumers).