Former Coca-Cola Enterprises executives indicted on corruption charges
ATLANTA (AP) _ Two executives at Coca-Cola’s largest bottler were indicted on charges they tried to undermine a union organizing effort by bribing an employee with $10,000 and a promotion to influence his co-workers.
Both executives have been granted leaves while preparing their defense. James Wardlaw, 49, is a former regional vice president and general manager and Eric Turpin, 48, is a former regional vice president of human resources of Coca-Cola Enterprises Inc.’s Atlanta region.
U.S. Attorney Kent B. Alexander said that Coca Cola Enterprises, the largest bottler for the Coca-Cola Co., is not named in Tuesday’s indictment and has been cooperating with investigators.
The five-count federal grand jury indictment charges that the defendants conspired to get an employee to persuade his co-workers to vote against Local 42 of the Bakery, Confectionery and Tobacco Workers in a National Labor Relations Board election held Aug. 3, 1994.
The union, which was seeking to be certified by the NLRB as the collective bargaining representative for CCE’s workers in several Metro Division sales centers, lost the election.
``Jimmy Wardlaw gave absolutely nothing to anyone to influence the outcome of that election,″ said his attorney, Charles Fels.
Coca-Cola Enterprises said in a statement that the charges, ``if they are determined to be valid, would directly contradict our company’s labor relations philosophies, policies and practices.″