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Are you still drinking Coca-Cola?

By Chuck Zlatkin
The Union Mail, American Postal Workers Union
October 2006

Over a period of years, in Colombia, South America, there has emerged a cycle of violence involving the murders, kidnapping and torture of union activists at Coca-Cola bottling plants.

It is alleged that in the past 13 years, nine union members were murdered by illegal far-right militias hired by Coca-Cola's locally owned bottling plants. These paramilitary groups were used regularly by the company to threaten and intimidate Coca-Cola workers. In 2001, SINALTRAINAL, the Colombian food and drink union sued Coca-Cola in a Miami federal court over the deaths of its members.

As the case began, a boycott in support of the Colombian Coca-Cola workers was begun by unions in the United States, England, Italy, Germany and Australia. As the struggle continued in the courts and in the media, the boycott against Coca-Cola grew. In 2004 the American Postal Workers Union voted to join the boycott because it is spelled out in our union's constitution that we are "together with other national and international unions, for the solidification of the labor movement." Our union resolved that we would request the United States Postal Service to remove Coca-Cola from its facilities and that all local and state American Postal Workers Unions stop purchasing Coca-Cola products until the issue is resolved. It is October 2006 and the issue has not been resolved. The Coca-Cola boycott continues.

SunTrust Banks have been so closely associated with Coca-Cola since its first public offering in 1919 that is known as "Coke's bank." SunTrust Banks chairman, president and CEO Phillip Humann, also a director of Coca-Cola Enterprises, owns 668,826 shares of the banks and 451,402 shares of CCE, Coke's larges subsidiary.

In 2004, the APWU's President's Conference resolved "That the National American Postal Workers Union communicates to SunTrust Banks, Inc. that unless the Alien Tort Claims Act lawsuit is settled within 60 days and the safety and rights of workers in the Coca-Cola Colombian bottling plants are protected, the APWU will urge all unions and state and local American Postal Workers unions and their members to support a divestment and boycott campaign of SunTrust Banks, Inc."

When SunTrust failed to meet the demands, APWU acted by divesting $13 million of union funds from the bank in support of the Coca-Cola workers. We are not alone. Unions, schools, and civic organizations from all over the world have joined the boycott. The crimes and transgressions of Coca-Cola have been exposed. Coca-Cola has been under enormous scrutiny revealing a host of human rights and environmental violations that have added impetus to the growth of the boycott.

The question remains: are you still drinking Coca-Cola? For more information, see www.KillerCoke.org

In December, Coca-Cola and Iraq, a whole new reason to boycott.

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