By Danielle Uchitelle | Linewaiters Gazette | May 13, 2004
ILLUSTRATION BY LYNN BERNSTEIN
Coop members attending April's General Meeting heard a passionate indictment excoriating multinational food giant Coca-Cola and a plea in support of a boycott. This was followed by rounds of amendments, amendments to amendments, and other procedural contention that at times seemed to threaten to derail the original proposal, before finally emerging from the debate with an overwhelming vote to banish Coke products from the Coop's shelves. Meeting participants also had the opportunity to listen to an optimistic financial report and to mull over a discussion item on an annual Coop-wide referendum.
Coop member L. Friedman submitted the Coke boycott proposal and spoke on its behalf. "I bring this resolution here tonight because I believe that carrying Coke products is a violation of the Coop's mission statement," proclaimed Friedman. He noted the mission statement's goals to avoid exploitation, support healthful food, respect the environment, and oppose discrimination and inequality. "Coke is guilty in all of these areas," said Friedman, who then detailed specific abuses in India and Latin America, including threats and violence against workers, union busting, destruction of local environments, and legal intimidation of corporate opponents.
Coop guidelines require that there be evidence of effective local support as well as an organized national campaign before joining the boycott. Friedman described the national arid International campaign against Coke and passed out a set of lurid flyers that portrayed some of the company's abuses. Various unions as well as an expanding list of colleges have already joined the boycott. said Friedman. He gave examples that included the bus drivers in Boston who voted to remove Coke products from their bus depots.
The meeting was then opened up for discussion of the proposal. One member asked if it really was only Minute Maid and Odwalla juices that were Coke products carried by the Coop, and if anyone could provide the sales figures for these products. General Coordinator Joe Holtz responded saying that combined sales of both products total about $1,000 per week, and that he knew of no other Coke products carried by the Coop.
One Coop member seemed to think that a boycott of Coke might not go far enough. "What about companies like Archer Daniels Midland; why pick on Coke? They're all bastards!" He retorted, "Are they really all equally bad? I used to think so too until started to do some research." Coca-Cola, he felt, was responsible for abuses beyond anything that even the other multinational food companies may have perpetrated...
In the end the two-page resolution and the one-line proposal were synthesized into the following: "Resolved that the Park Slope Food Coop sever all ties with The Coca-Cola Co., its units and subsidiaries and will no longer sell the company's products, which have "The Coca-Cola Co." logo on the packaging or are advertised as Coca-Cola products, such as, Odwalla or Minute Maid products." This proposal was approved by a vote of 48 in favor and 4 opposed, with 5 abstentions...
(Excerpts from the Linewaiters Gazette, May 13, 2004)
Click here to read the entire resolution as approved.
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