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Coca-Cola has power to stop violence

Indiana Daily Student News
Issue: 3/22/05

The IU anti-sweatshop organization, No Sweat!, would like to draw attention to other important information about Coca-Cola. Not only are students subject to a beverage monopoly, Coca-Cola has been complicit in the murders, kidnappings and campaigns of terror against factory workers trying to unionize in Colombia. Students at campuses across the nation are fighting to have Coke kicked off their campus by having these multi-million dollar contracts cut.

Lately, there has been increasing discussion at IU and at campuses around the nation about Coca-Cola. Specifically, students are interested in the activities of Coke's bottling plants in Colombia. This letter seeks to clear up the questions surrounding Coke's activities.

- What is happening in Colombia?

During the past decade, paramilitary death squads have murdered nine Colombian union leaders who work in bottling plants that are either owned or franchised by Coke. The executions took place in direct response to the factory workers' attempts to organize for better wages and working conditions. These murders have been accompanied by kidnappings, beatings and threats to workers and their families. According to the union members and independent investigators, the death squads were invited in by plant managers. Coke, one of the most powerful corporations in the world, claims that it lacks the influence to stop the killings in plants. As a major shareholder in and the only source of contracts for these bottling plants, however, Coke has enormous power to stop the violence.

- What can I do?

SINALTRAINAL, the union whose members have been subjected to this terror campaign, has called for a worldwide boycott of Coke products. As students at IU, we can tell the IU administration, just as students across the nation have told their universities, that we refuse to let Coke profit off of the murder of Colombian workers. Because Coke has an exclusive contract with IU, we sit in a unique and powerful position. If IU chooses to cut its contract with Coke, as other universities have done, Coke will lose an enormous amount of business. Tell IU that it should pressure Coke to allow monitors into its plants by using its contract as leverage.

- Isn't Pepsi or any other soda company just as bad?

Perhaps, but Coke workers are specifically asking us to boycott Coke products because they have tried every other method to stop the violence. It is true that boycotts can harm workers by inducing corporations to cut jobs, therefore we should only act when workers have expressed their willingness to incur this risk. By going after the industry leader that sets standards for all beverage companies, we can force reform. For more information, go to: www.killercoke.org, or contact us at No Sweat! nosweat@indiana.edu and for Coke's response, go to www.killercoke.net.

Adam Mueller

IU No Sweat!

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