Campaign to Stop Killer Coke Update July 7, 2004
1. Campaign to Stop Killer Coke/Corporate Campaign, Inc. has moved its offices to Brooklyn, New York!
Our new phone number is (718) 852-2808; We will maintain our same mailing address at: Campaign to Stop Killer Coke, P.O. Box 1002, Cooper Station. New York, NY 10276-1002
2. The New York Times Article on the Supreme Court and the Alien Tort Claims Act
"Human Rights Abuses Worldwide Are Held to Fall Under U.S. Courts," Linda Greenhouse, June 30, 2004
"A Supreme Court decision on Tuesday kept federal courts open to lawsuits (under the Alien Tort Claims Act) by foreigners who allege that they were victims of serious human rights violations anywhere in the world."
3. "Human Rights and the Court," The New York Times Editorial, July 3, 2004
"Human Rights and the Court
"The Supreme Court has upheld an important law that offers victims of torture, genocide, slavery and war crimes worldwide a day in court, and a shot at justice. The law, the arcane Alien Tort Claims Act, was originally written to fight piracy in 1789, but it has been used by foreigners to sue in American courts for overseas human rights violations.
"Holocaust survivors used the act to pry damages from the Swiss banks that held the assets of Nazi victims. In Myanmar, people who say they are victims of slave labor are using it to sue an American company involved in a gas pipeline project. Victims of the Abu Ghraib prison abuses are now suing the prison's private contractors under the act.
"Human rights advocates rely on the law to adjudicate a wide range of crimes that might otherwise never get to court. International businesses hate the law and consider it a license for American courts to stray from their jurisdiction and hold them accountable for the sins of unsavory foreign governments. The Bush administration agrees.
"But in its first ruling on the act, the Supreme Court properly sided with the cause of human rights. Justice David Souter's opinion, in a 6-to-3 decision on the fate of the act, tries to strike a balance by upholding it but limiting its applicability to those crimes of universal jurisdiction that nations have agreed are particularly heinous. The actual case before the court - a lawsuit by a Mexican doctor illegally detained for a few hours during an investigation into the death of a federal Drug Enforcement Administration officer - didn't come close to meeting that threshold, and was thrown out.
"The Supreme Court also said that lower courts should be sensitive to how cases could affect American foreign policy. Judges should treat such claims warily. The Bush administration is too quick to argue that the application of the act will impede the war on terror and poison relations with friendly governments."
4. Coca-Cola Femsa
An e-mail from Jana Silverman in Colombia: "I noticed in your newsletters that you never mentioned that Femsa rejected the unionīs proposal to relocate the 91 workers (instigating the 12-day hunger strike by SINALTRAINAL workers in March) and that the ministry of social protection ruled that they could be collectively fired. The union is currently appealing the ministry's decision; right at this moment there's not a lot of action, but it's important that people stay up on these things because the union may have to go on strike again if they lose the appeal."
5. UNISON, the UK's largest public service union, supports the Campaign
UNISON, the UK's largest public service union, carried a composite motion on "Solidarity with Colombia" amended to support the boycott of Coca Cola products, June 25. "UNISON is Britain's biggest trade union with over 1.3 million members. Our members are people working in the public services, for private contractors providing public services and the essential utilities. They include frontline staff and managers working full or part time in local authorities, the NHS, the police service, colleges and schools, the electricity, gas and water industries, transport and the voluntary sector. Last year UNISON recruited 148,755 new members.
Read the UNISON resolution
This resolution comes shortly after the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the largest AFL-CIO international with more than 1.5 million members, passed a resolution to" support the worldwide call to boycott Coca-Cola and work to win broad AFL-CIO support for the campaign against killer Coke."
Read the SEIU resolution
Last year, the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) at its International convention resolved "That the ILWU join the boycott of Coca-Cola and do all it can to publicize the boycott around the world."
Read the ILWU resolution.
6. You can help kick Coke off the UMass Amherst campus by sending a strong message
In May, we e-mailed a letter to UMass Amherst Chancellor John V. Lombardi and about 5,000 faculty, staff and other members of the university community urging the university not to enter into any further agreements with The Coca-Cola Co. because of Coke's complicity in massive human rights violations in Colombia and other irresponsible actions worldwide.
Below is the letter the Campaign mailed last week to all state legislators in Massachusetts along with Campaign literature. We are asking them to support the Campaign at UMass Amherst by urging Chancellor Lombardi to refrain from entering into any vendor or pouring contracts with Coca-Cola or its bottling partners The bid deadline is July 20th at 2 p.m. and a bidder is to be selected on August 3rd."
To support the Campaign at UMass Amherst, we are urging supporters from across the country to contact Chancellor Lombardi. Appeal to him to refrain from entering into any vendor or pouring contracts with Coca-Cola or its bottling partners. Below is Chancellor Lombardi's contact information:
John V. Lombardi, Chancellor
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003
Dear State Legislator:
In 1998, the University of Massachusetts Amherst entered into an exclusive "sponsorship agreement" with The Coca-Cola Co. that will expire at the end of August. Because you may not be aware of Coca-Cola's gross human rights abuses and irresponsibility, we are sending you this letter and asking you to review our Web site, www.killercoke.org. We hope you will join us in calling upon the Chancellor of UMass Amherst to refrain from entering into any vendor contracts or pouring contracts with Coca-Cola or its bottling partners.
My organization, Corporate Campaign, Inc., has been investigating what the world's largest beverage company proudly calls the "Coca-Cola System" for more than a year. We discovered that Coke is a multinational scofflaw - a "System" rife with corruption, immorality and involvement in human rights violations including murder, torture and kidnapping.
In July 2001, the International Labor Rights Fund (ILRF) and the United Steelworkers of America, AFL-CIO, filed a lawsuit on behalf of SINALTRAINAL (the National Union of Food Industry Workers in Colombia), several of its members and the estate of Isidro Gil, a union officer who was murdered at his workplace by paramilitary thugs who collaborated with management. The lawsuit charges that Coca-Cola bottlers "contracted with or otherwise directed paramilitary security forces that utilized extreme violence and murdered, kidnapped, unlawfully detained or otherwise silenced trade union leaders." This year, the Swedish investment company, G.E.S. Investment Services, placed Coca-Cola on its list of bad corporate citizens, specifically citing reports of acts of violence, anti-union dismissals and murders of trade union officials at Coke's Colombian bottling plants.
In January 2004, Hiram Monserrate, a member of the New York City Council and a former police officer, led a delegation on a 10-day, fact-finding mission to Colombia. The delegation's final report, released in April, said in part: "The conclusion that Coca-Cola bears responsibility for the campaign of terror leveled at its workers is unavoidable? (We) found both the quantity and the nature of Coca-Cola workers' allegations shocking and compelling. It seems indisputable that Coke workers have been systematically persecuted for their union activity (and)? that the company has allowed, if not itself orchestrated, the human rights violations of its workers, and it has benefited economically from those violations?In the face of this evidence, Coca-Cola's continued insistence that it bears no responsibility whatsoever for the terror campaigns against its workers is highly disturbing, as is its complete failure to investigate company ties to the paramilitaries." (The report can be found at www.killercoke.org.).
On April 1, 2004, 15 members of Congress wrote to Coke executives Douglas Daft and Steven Heyer to voice their "urgent concerns over events at Coca-Cola facilities in Colombia," including murders of and death threats to union workers. Among the signers were Representatives Barney Frank and James P. McGovern.
As Forbes magazine (12/4/03) pointed out in an article entitled "Coke's Sinful World," "The biggest bottlers aren't subsidiaries of Coke, nor are they completely independent. Coke effectively controls them by maintaining big equity stakes and a heavy presence on their boards, and by providing their main source of business. Yet it keeps its stakes in the bottlers below 50%, thereby avoiding getting hit with their piles of debt and any unpleasant liabilities." Several of Coca-Cola's top officials, including Mr. Heyer (who resigned as President and Chief Operating Officer on June 9) and influential board member Herbert Allen, serve on the Board of Directors of Coca-Cola Femsa, Coke's largest bottler in Colombia and a defendant in the lawsuit. The Coca-Cola Co. owns 46.4% of Coca-Cola Femsa's voting stock.
Coca-Cola's deplorable record in Colombia fits a pattern of bad behavior around the world. The company has a well-documented record of racially discriminatory practices that continue to this day. Its misleading and fraudulent marketing and accounting practices are well known. It persecutes whistleblowers and workers who raise questions about occupational safety and health. It cheats employees out of their earnings. It aggressively markets nutritionally worthless and damaging products to children that help fuel the childhood obesity and diabetes epidemics. It seizes, pollutes and overexploits vital water resources in India, Mexico, Ghana and elsewhere.
On June 10, the organization Human Rights Watch cited Coke's "complicity in the use of hazardous child labor" in El Salvador, where thousands of children as young as eight years old use machetes and other sharp knives for up to nine hours a day to harvest sugarcane in the hot sun. Coke buys sugar from at least four plantations that use child labor, according to HRW. "Companies that buy or use Salvadoran sugar should realize that fact and take responsibility for doing something about it," a spokesman said.
With an enrollment of 18,000 undergraduates from all 50 states and 70 foreign countries plus 6,000 graduate students, UMass Amherst is a highly respected institution. Yet, Coca-Cola is using the UMass logo on vending machines, delivery trucks, advertisements, etc. Students and community members have undertaken a campaign to block the renewal of the University's exclusive contract with The Coca-Cola Co. All five UMass campuses have signed on to the Model Code of Conduct of the Worker Rights Consortium (WRC), a non-profit organization created in 2000 by students, college and university administrations and labor rights experts. More than 100 colleges and universities are affiliated with the WRC, which was established "to ensure that factories producing clothing and other goods bearing college and university names respect the basic rights of workers."
Some at the University will likely maintain that it has an obligation to accept the lowest bid for any product or service, regardless of any other considerations. We have been told that, according to the Chancellor, the university could reject a bid from Coca-Cola only if the Administration was given solid proof of Coca-Cola's lawbreaking in some country - proof that would stand up in court. However, the Request for Bid (RFB) from the University's Procurement Office states: "The University reserves the right not to award a contract at its sole discretion." It further states:
"IV-D. If a contract is awarded, it shall be awarded to the bidder who, in the opinion of the University, possesses the qualifications, ability, responsibility, and integrity necessary to faithfully fulfill the provisions of the contract. The University reserves the right to reject any or all bids and is not necessarily bound to accept the lowest cost or highest percentage commission if it is contrary to the best interest of the University. Intangible factors such as the bidder's qualifications, employment practices, integrity, and quality of facilities and equipment will also be weighed in making the award."
"VI-E. The University will rate the bidders on an evaluation of their proposals, as submitted. The University reserves the right to award a contract not based solely on the bidder with the lowest cost, highest guaranteed payment to the University, or highest percentage payment to the University, but based on an offer which, in the sole opinion of the University, best fulfills or exceeds the requirements of this RFB and is deemed by the University to be in its best interest. The University reserves the right not to award a contract at its sole discretion."
The bid deadline is July 20th at 2 p.m. and a bidder is to be selected on August 3rd. We submit that a contract with The Coca-Cola Co. is not in the best interests of the University of Massachusetts Amherst or any other institution that seeks to protect its own image and reputation. By allowing Coca-Cola to monopolize the market for beverages on campus, UMass Amherst would severely compromise its good name and would stand exposed as an institution where conscience doesn't count and ethics are of little or no import.
Future contracts should be awarded to reputable suppliers who are responsible corporate citizens - a category that clearly excludes The Coca-Cola Co.
I would be happy to address any questions or concerns you may have.
(B.A., UMass Amherst, 1967)
Director, Campaign to Stop Killer Coke
Corporate Campaign, Inc.
7. UAW Local 22, The Steward, "Stop Killer Coke Fund-raiser"
On April 17th, a rally to Stop Killer Coke was held, sponsored by UAW Region1, Region 1A, UAW Local 22, SEMCOSH and the Detroit branch of the IWW. The featured speakers at the rally, held at UAW Local 22's union hall, were SINALTRAINAL member Luis Adolfo Cardona, UAW Vice President Bob King and Campaign to Stop Killer Coke Director Ray Rogers.
Read the article from the June/July issue of The Steward in html
Read the article from the June/July issue of The Steward in pdf
8. The Hindu, "Social activists to launch movement against Coca-Cola," July 1, 2004
"Protesting against multi-national giant Coca Cola, two veteran Gandhian leaders today announced the launch of a people's movement against the manufacturing facilities of the soft drink brand in Rajasthan and other States."
Read the article.