500 striking workers in Washington launched a class action after their health plans were cut

Lawyers representing 500 striking employees at Coke filed a class action lawsuit after the company cancelled their health care.

The suit accused Coke of violating the Employee Retirement Income Security Act (ERISA), which sets minimum standards for health plans in the private sector.

"My wife had a kidney transplant two years ago. When Coke cancelled our health care, they cut off her anti-rejection medication. This shows me that Coke doesn't care about its employees," said Bill Mauhl, a 34-year Coke employee, who works in the company's production facility in Bellevue.

"In my almost twenty years of representing workers and unions in labour disputes, it's hard to think of any past instance where I have seen an employer retaliate against its striking workers in a manner as egregious as what the Coca-Cola Bottling Company has done here," said Dmitri Iglitzin, an attorney at Schwerin Campbell Barnard Iglitzin & Lavitt, an employment law firm based in Seattle.

"Cutting off the medical benefits to more than 500 workers, knowing that many of them rely on those benefits on a day-to-day basis and will be irreparably harmed if they lose those benefits is a brutal, full-scale attack by Coke on its own workers," Iglitzin continued.

Approximately 500 Coke employees in Western Washington went on strike over charges of employee surveillance, intimidation and bad faith bargaining.