Contents of the Newsletter
In a letter dated October 14, 2004, the Office of NYC Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr. on behalf of the New York City Employees' Retirement System, the New York City Teachers' Retirement System, the NYC Fire Department Pension Fund and the NYC Police Pension Fund, informed Coke that because the company had failed to respond adequately to their concerns, that they were filing a resolution calling for "an independent investigation of allegations made against Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia." The funds own 5,257,217 shares of common stock valued at more than $209 million.
The letter stated that the "assessment is based on the fact that the Company has not pursued an independent investigation of the allegations and offered no indication that it intends to do so, despite their urging and stated expectation. The investigations by the Company and its Colombian bottling partners...lack the credibility and objectivity that are necessary to remove the cloud of suspicion now hovering over the Company's public image. These internal investigations do not satisfy the urgent need for an independent investigation..."
Coca-Cola has repeatedly claimed that an independent investigation of the allegations of human rights abuses had been done which exonerated the company and its bottlers. When asked at Carleton College (Minnesota) who did the independent investigation, a Coca-Cola representative said that it was done by White and Case. What Coca-Cola did not say was that White and Case is the law firm that represents the company in the United Steelworkers of America/International Labor Rights Fund lawsuit charging that Coca-Cola's Colombian bottlers "contracted with or otherwise directed paramilitary security forces that utilized extreme violence and murdered, tortured, unlawfully detained or otherwise silenced trade union leaders."
Coke also does not like to shed light on the fact that an executive partner at White and Case is on the board of Coca-Cola Femsa, the largest Colombian bottler, which is a defendant in the lawsuit or that several of its top policymakers are on the board of Coca-Cola Femsa. SunTrust Banks, which shares numerous board interlocks with The Coca-Cola Co. and its largest bottler, Coca-Cola Enterprises, is also represented on the board of Coca-Cola Femsa.
The NYCERS resolution has been placed on the AFL-CIO key shareholder vote list for 2005. Affiliated union funds are urged to pay attention to this resolution and to support it.
Read Letter in PDF
UAW Local 259 passed a resolution to hold Coca-Cola and SunTrust Banks accountable for human rights abuses of Colombian union leaders. The resolution resolves:
"THAT the UAW Local 259 will support the 'Unthinkable! Undrinkable!' petition campaign directed at Coca-Cola's Board of Directors and the 'NO THANKS, SUNTRUST BANKS' petition campaign directed at SunTrust Banks' Board of Directors;
"THAT the UAW Local 259, bans all Coke products from all UAW Local 259 offices and functions and calls upon other local unions, to do the same;
"THAT the UAW Local 259 will communicate to SunTrust Banks, Inc. that until the situation involving SINALTRAINAL in Colombia is resolved and the safety and rights of workers in the Coca-Cola Colombian bottling plants are protected, UAW Local 259 will support SINALTRAINAL's divestment and boycott campaign against SunTrust Banks, Inc and will urge our members, other UAW locals, and other union members to do the same."
Read the Resolution
What to do when Coke is served at lunch.
In a recent conversation with John Corey, General Secretary of NIPSA, it was confirmed that his union, the largest trade union in Northern Ireland representing 40,000 members, passed a motion at its general conference condemning the human rights abuses of Coca-Cola's bottlers in Colombia and called for a boycott of Coca-Cola and its products.
Grinnell College in Iowa has a strong campaign against Coca-Cola. This is an important school because Warren Buffett is a Life Trustee of the college. Buffett is Chair and controlling stockholder of Berkshire Hathaway Inc. of Omaha, a member of Coke's board of directors and owner of more than 200 million shares (8.2%) of Coca-Cola common stock.
Grinnell's campaign has developed a unique approach to targeting Coca-Cola. Grinnell has an exclusive contract with Coca-Cola, which lasts until 2008. This contract posed a major problem for the student groups calling for a Coke boycott. Three student groups, the Latin American Solidarity Group, the Students Against Sweatshops, and the Student Organization of Latinos and Latinas (SOL), combined forces to form an anti-Coke coalition. The coalition utilized an official boycott policy of the college. The policy, which was written during the anti-apartheid effort, states that if twenty percent or more of the student body agrees to boycott a product, the College will label that product and provide alternatives, when able.
The anti-Coke campaign kicked off with a letter to the editor in the school newspaper. After the letter was published, the coalition had little trouble gathering signatures on its petition calling for a boycott on all Coke products. Within two days, over a third of students at Grinnell College had agreed to boycott coke.
Because of the long-term contract, Coke still supplies the only beverages on campus. Next to each of these products there is now a sign reading, "The Grinnell College student body has voted to boycott Coca-Cola products. This is a Coca-Cola product." Also, the college has agreed to decrease the purchase of Coke products in proportion to the decrease in their consumption by the students. Therefore, the coalition is still working to encourage individuals at Grinnell College to make the personal decision not to buy Coke. Also, the coalition is asking the administration to agree that before they sign another contract with Coca-Cola, they will consult student opinion.
For more information, contact Linda Wells at WELLSIN@Grinnell.EDU
The lawyers in the Coca-Cola lawsuit brought by the International Labor Rights Fund were also involved in a Alien Tort Claims lawsuit against Unocal for human rights abuses committed in Myanmar (Burma) years ago. A judge ruled some months ago that the case would have to go to a jury; recently Unocal agreed to settle the case to avoid going to trial.
Robert L. Nardelli, CEO of Home Depot, announced that he would not run again for Coke's Board of Directors when his term expires in April, 2005. He stated that he was not running due to increased demands on his time at Home Depot.
Nardelli is the fifth top policymaker of Coca-Cola to announce that they would leave the company since last April's annual meeting fiasco - when Campaign Director Ray Rogers was attacked by their security guards. The others are former Coke CEO Douglas Daft, Coke Secretary and General Counsel Deval Patrick, Coke President Steven Heyer and Director Susan Bennett King.
Former Coke CEO and Chair Douglas Daft was recently appointed to the Board of Directors of Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. six months after resigning under pressure from The Coca-Cola Co.
Daft also resigned from the Coke CEO seat on the SunTrust board and was replaced on SunTrust's board by present Coke CEO E. Neville Isdell.
8. "For Christmas, will Coca-Cola stop acting like Big Tobacco," by John F. Borowski, Dec. 21, 2004
The annual meetings of Coca-Cola and SunTrust Banks will be held in April. The Royal Bank of Canada's (RBC) annual meeting is taking place at the World Trade and Convention Center at 1800 Argyle Street, Halifax, Nova Scotia, Canada, on Feb. 25 at 10 am in the Port Royal Room.
Coke Director J. Pedro Reinhard is Dow Chemical's chief financial officer and a director of both Dow (Union Carbide) and the Royal Bank of Canada. See our Canadian two-sided leaflet/petition entitled "Royal Bank of Canada: 'Dump Reinhard from Your Board our We'll Dump You.'
We are interested in acquiring proxies from our supporters so that we may participate in those meetings. Last April, we were able to participate in the annual meeting of Coke and we also brought students and a striking Teamster into the meeting to confront the board of directors. If you are entitled to any proxies, please contact us either at info@KillerCoke.org or (718) 852-2808. We need supporters in the Halifax area who would like to help the Campaign leaflet and demonstrate at the RBC annual meeting — please contact us.
Below are a few of the international sites that link to the Campaign site. We're including these links so that supporters can see how far the Campaign is spreading throughout the world.
A powerful book by John Perkins, "Confessions of an Economic Hit Man," discusses a 10-year career as an Economic Hit Man (EHM) serving the "corporatocracy." His job was to convince third world countries to take out large loans from the World Bank and give the money to corporations, including Halliburton, Brown and Root and Bechtel. These loans would financially devastate these countries, while enriching the countries' leaders and the corporations.
Perkins said that when he was unsuccessful, "jackels" would be sent in to assassinate the countries' leaders or to foment a coup. And when that was unsuccessful, American troops would be sent in.
Please send photos, reports of events, and if you are in a school, union or organization that has banned Coke products, please send us the resolution or description of how the decision was made. We would like the Campaign website to be up-to-date and to share the information with all supporters via our newsletter.
Thanks to all. Have a very Happy New Year! Let's make 2005 the year we beat Coke!
We are seeking your help to stop a gruesome cycle of murders, kidnappings, and torture of union leaders and organizers involved in daily life-and-death struggles at Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia, South America.
"If we lose the fight against Coca-Cola, we will first lose our union, next our jobs and then our lives." SINALTRAINAL VIce President Juan Carlos Galvis
Learn the truth about The Coca-Cola Co.
"We believe the evidence shows that Coca-Cola and its corporate network are rife with immorality, corruption and complicity in murder."
Campaign to Stop Killer Coke/Corporate Campaign, Inc. Director Ray Rogers