Reuters: Teamster rep warns of worker strikes at CCE

April 16, 2007: Reuters: Employees of Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc., Coca-Cola Co.'s largest bottler, may be forced to stop work if the two companies fail to address worker concerns, a Teamsters Union representative warned on Monday.

The Teamsters Union, which represents more than 14,000 Coke and CCE employees in the United States and Canada, has previously protested against restructuring programs that led to job cuts at a Southern California bottling plant.

"By refusing to address workers' most basic concerns about job security and affordable health care, Coke may soon precipitate widespread work stoppages with picket lines extended throughout the U.S.," said David Laughton, the secretary-treasurer of the Teamsters Brewery and Soft Drink Workers Conference, during a conference call.

Calling Coke "arrogant" in its handling of labor relations, Laughton, a former Coke employee, said worker-related problems were escalating and could threaten U.S. operations.

"Whether it is being slow to adapt to the changing beverage market conditions, maintaining good relations with its bottlers, keeping up with Pepsi's sales, sales growth and earnings, our board of directors and the management team have failed to demonstrate great leadership," Laughton said.

Coke will report earnings on Tuesday and is holding its annual meeting later this week. Its shares were up 0.8 percent, or 39 cents, at $50.26 during morning trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Shares of CCE, which reports earnings next week, were up 1.78 percent, or 37 cents, at $21.14.

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