USA: Coca-Cola Protest Interest Waning
Fewer people than originally expected will participate in a "ride for justice" to Coca-Cola Co.'s annual shareholders meeting in Delaware, where protesters hope to pressure the soft drink giant to settle a race discrimination lawsuit, organizers said."We will have two buses instead of three because there's less volume than we thought," said Larry Jones, a former human resource manager at Coke and the chief organizer of the trip.Jones had hoped for 150 people and three buses, but he said Tuesday that 60 people have signed up so far. He said he hopes that two buses, each holding about 55 passengers, will make the 1,300-mile round trip to Wilmington, Del., for the April 19 meeting.The federal suit, filed by eight current and former employees, claims Atlanta-based Coke has discriminated against blacks in pay, promotions and performance evaluations. The company has denied the allegations and is fighting efforts to have the suit declared a class action, enveloping 2,000 plaintiffs.Talks with a federal mediator concerning the lawsuit are scheduled for April 17-18. Coca-Cola Chairman Doug Daft has said the company is "working toward an expedient and equitable resolution."Jones said the trip to Wilmington was too long for some former and current Coke employees.He has encouraged white employees to join the bus trip and said supporters nationwide have donated money for the campaign. He said $36,000 has been raised so far to pay for the trip."We have the minimum amount of money needed to pay for the hotel rooms and buses," Jones said.The group plans stops in Greensboro, N.C., Richmond, Va., and Washington before arriving in Wilmington.
April 13, 2000