Contents of the Newsletter
1. Colossal Victory! Coke Loses Rutgers!
In a Campaign victory that will cost Coca-Cola tens of millions in lost revenues and profits, Rutgers University of New Jersey, with more than 60,000 students, faculty, staff and administrators, has not renewed Coke's exclusive beverage contract. The Rutgers University community was among the largest consumers of Coke products and the largest collegiate consumer of Coke's Minute Maid products. Thus, hundreds of Coke machines and fountains from the three Rutgers New Jersey campuses are being removed along with Coca-Cola scoreboards, clocks and other Coke ads that polluted the university. The decision that effectively bans the sale and marketing of all Coke products from campus was made on May 10 after a long-fought, two-year Campaign led by student organizations and the faculty union.
As a result of the Campaign, the administration felt it necessary to hold three public hearings regarding the Coke contract. At these hearings, one speaker after another called on the University to end its relationship with Coca-Cola and to ban the sale of all Coke products. No one at the hearings spoke up on behalf of Coke.
Rutgers' 10-year exclusive contract with The Coca-Cola Co. expired at the end of July 2004. The Campaign on campus had become a hot political issue that the administration had to deal with, according to administration insiders. Some university officials complained that there were so many Coke machines and such a large infrastructure created by Coke on campus that it would be very difficult and costly to replace, thus key players in the decision felt that it would be a lot easier to simply stick with Coke. However, pressure on campus was such that the university said that it would have to extend the Coke contract for 10 months to give them sufficient time to make a change, if Coke did not clean up its act.
The issue on campus would not go away, but intensified. Campus newspapers covered the issue extensively. As early as the fall of 2004, we were told by "informed sources" at Rutgers that Coke would be removed from campus and that Pepsi would likely be the replacement.
The tenacity of the students and faculty ensured that Rutgers took the right course of action to hold Coca-Cola accountable. This should serve as an example for both large and small campuses to emulate.
Newark Star-Ledger, "At Rutgers, Pepsi's $17 million deal is the real thing," By By Kelly Heyboer, May 14, 2005
2. Coke Losing Ground at University of Michigan University of Michigan's Dispute Review Board "has found credible evidence to support two allegations of human rights abuses... the DRB decided to renew the contract with Coca-Cola through September. After September, the contract would be renewed on a month-by-month basis, provided that Coca-Cola shows it has improved its human rights record."
"It's not our job as the University to force Coke to change," RC sophomore and Coke Coalition member Jory Hearst said. "The DRB's role should be to evaluate whether a company is in violation of the code of conduct. Here they clearly are, so we should cut the contract."
This statement was reinforced by an May 16 editorial in The Michigan Daily:
"The University must act quickly to cancel its contracts with Coca-Cola or risk losing the power to change Coke's unacceptable treatment of its workers. While complacency with the status quo may be the path of least resistance, issues like these must take precedence over the profitability and convenience of a long-term contract. Like Nike, Coke will only remedy its practices with significant pressure and the fear of a tarnished image, and the University must not delay in sending a clear signal."
The Michigan Daily, "Kicking the Habit: University must terminate Coke contracts now," Staff Editorial, May 16, 2005
(The Michigan Daily editorial notes that six U.S. colleges/universities have removed Coke from campuses. The number is now at least eight — Rutgers University and Union Theological Seminary have recently dumped Coke.
The Michigan Daily, "Evidence supports Coca-Cola allegations, "By Christopher Zbrozek, May 16, 2005
University of Buffalo is the largest State University of New York (SUNY) campus. Two years ago, activists at Buffalo distributed Campaign literature, had a teach in which included a speaker from Colombia, followed by an expose of Coke's human rights abuses published in the campus newspaper. This year, Pepsi was brought on campus, dumping Coke. We're not sure how much our Campaign had to do with the dumping of Coke, but there had been some Campaign involvement on the campus.
Since this has happened, the New York State United Teachers (NYSUT), New York's largest teachers' union, representing more than 525,000 members including SUNY faculty, passed a resolution, submitted by the Professional Staff Congress - City University of New York (CUNY) on April 9:
"Resolved, that NYSUT refrain from serving or selling Coca-Cola products at its offices or at any venue for its events, meetings, conferences and conventions until the allegations have been investigated; and be it further
"Resolved, that NYSUT recommend to all its affiliates that they not serve or sell Coca-Cola products at their offices or at venues for their events, meetings, conferences and conventions." NYSUT, is the largest union in New York State, representing more than 525,000 classroom teachers and other school employees and retirees; academic and professional faculty at the state's community colleges, SUNY and CUNY; and other education and health professionals. NYSUT is affiliated with the American Federation of Teachers, AFL-CIO.
We are now planning to intensify our efforts on SUNY, CUNY and school districts in New York State, which currently have Coca-Cola contracts, especially those from which we have had numerous students and teachers seeking our support.
4. Coke Requests Meeting Held at Union Theological Seminary, May 18 On April 12, Union Theological Seminary, New York City, President Joseph Hough announced a decision to remove all Coke machines from their campus. It was reported that "The board has already started taking the initiative by removing and replacing all Coca-Cola vending machines from the campus, restricting the administrative staff members from purchasing Coca-Cola products for informal meals and receptions, and agreeing with Showstoppers — the Seminary's in-house caterer — to stop offering Coca-Cola products."
This decision was reaffirmed on May 18 in a meeting at Union Theological requested by Coca-Cola. This meeting included Pres. Hough, several members of his staff, six representatives of The Coca-Cola Co., student leaders and Campaign to Stop Killer Coke Director Ray Rogers.
5. Will New York University Dump Coke in September?
It was reported to the Campaign that at April's New York University All-University Senate meeting, Bruce Buchanan, the head of the Business Ethics Dept. at Stern's School of Business said that Coke's business tactics were insulting and that he was ready to vote to ban the sale of Coke products at the University. Coke has ignored the Senate's call for an open forum and an independent investigation of human rights abuses in Colombia by a legitimate human rights monitor. The decision was made that a final vote for the university to ban Coke would be taken at September's All-University Senate meeting (see letter from University to Coke CEO Neville Isdell).
The following editorial was published in the Washington Square News on April 25:
Washington Square News, "Editorial: NYU Senate is impotent,"By WSN Editorial Board, April 25, 2005
"Great news. Yesterday St. Peter's Prep officially removed Coke products from the school. There is one fountain left, but it is on its way out. They will be replaced by other products yet unannounced. We were in a forum with Educating for Justice. org (Keady) on NIKE's violation of labor rights when the principal let the boys know of the actions. It has been a two-year effort. We have succeeded. Thanks for your example, guidance, and witness."
Dom and a concerned group of students visited our Campaign office last year and committed to making their campus Coke-free in support of the Coke workers in Colombia.
I went down to DC this weekend to participate in a meeting with Coca-Cola representatives and university representatives from around the country who have been campaigning to hold Coca-Cola accountable for their actions around the world.
The meeting was organized by an administrator from the University of California, Glenn Flichmann and Coke, but when administrators at other universities discovered that this meeting was taking place, they were quick to sign on. Unfortunately, it was much more difficult for students to attend, as the meeting was kept quiet until days before, was inconveniently scheduled during finals week, and students who were not escorted by administrators were not invited.
Members of United Students Against Sweatshops, who have been instrumental in the success of this international campaign, were barred from the meeting and sat outside with signs. I had difficulty getting approval to go, but after a lot of phone calling and run-arounds, and a very helpful email from Cindy Bogard to Kerry Kerr from Coca-Cola, I was finally approved to enter the clandestine coke meeting.
The meeting was attended by faculty, administrators, and students from University of Indiana, Smith College, NYU, Georgetown, University of Michigan, Malacester, Duke, University of Illinois, Oberlin College (who already had kicked Coke off campus), University of Iowa, University of De Paul, and Hofstra University.
The most incredible aspect of the meeting was witnessing administrators from all over the country step up to challenge Coca-cola. Coke definitely anticipated administrative sympathy, but received no special treatment from university administrators who expressed frustration with the communication process and disapproval of the company's refusal to take responsibility for their actions abroad.
Marcella David, from the University of Iowa said that Coca-Cola clearly benefited from the murders of Colombian union workers. Jim Wilkenson of Duke University stated that this meeting should have taken place a long time ago saying, "I am not used to begging companies we do business with to meet with us." He also criticized Coke for keeping USAS outside the meeting, claiming that we all need to talk to people who make us sweat.
Many also criticized how there was no representative from Sinaltrainal or the affected communities in India. When Ed Potter proclaimed that he was an email or a phone call away from administrators and students, Mary Griffin, a student at Smith College replied: "You need to be an email and phone call away from workers in Colombia, and people in India."
Coca-Cola reps tried to persuade us with PowerPoint presentations describing how wonderful they are and that they are philanthropists. The administrators and students were unconvinced. One student commented that she felt the presentation was insulting, and that they spoke to us as if we had no understanding of labor relations around the world. Another one of Coke's tactics was to try to superficially ally themselves with student activists, saying things such as "I was an activist in the 70s, so I understand where you're coming from." Or as Ed Potter, Director of Global Labor Relations, said "You may think I am just a fuddy duddy. But I was once like you." Potter also told us how his daughter, who is an environmentalist, questioned him after hearing about the campaign. According to him, he told her the "truth," and all was settled.
Coca-Cola also had Cal-Safety Compliance Corporation present, the company paid by Coca-Cola to "audit" the plants in Colombia and who claimed that they surveyed the workers there, but found nothing negative to report. Just so you get an idea of Cal-safety's track record, they were the same company that audited the sweatshop factory in El Monte, California, where "for up to five years, the workers were forbidden to leave the compound, forced to work behind razor wire and armed watch, sewing garments for top American brands for less than a dollar an hour. The workers worked from 7:00 am until midnight, seven days a week. Eight to ten people were forced to live in rat infested rooms designed for two." (Robert Ross, et al. 1997. "No Sweat: Fashion, Free Trade and the Rights of Garment Workers.") Conveniently enough for their client, D&R, Cal-Safety concluded that there was no unusual activity occurring in the factory.
Luckily, Glenn Flichman from the University of California gave a detailed account of why Cal-Safety's report could not be trusted, leaving Coca-cola representatives speechless.
Some excerpts from NYU's Crystal Yakaki's report:
"Coca-Cola looked like an ass the entire time. They looked stupid when students were speaking, they looked perhaps stupidER when they were speaking, and they became damn well baffled and looked absolutely asinine when questions were asked, many of which they did not/could not answer.
"All of the students were articulate and made good points. I was really impressed by them, and proud of us, and I think everyone in the room was increasingly impressed by us and irritated by Coke.
"I told them it was ridiculous it had taken two years to get a meeting that was in no way the meeting we had requested, and that the people who SHOULD be in the room are Colombian workers and Indian community members, not just students. Then I said that we weren't going away, that we aren't fooled by their stalling, which I think they were actually surprised by, and I think that most of the administrators in the room appreciated those comments, though they would never say them themselves. At some point I called it a spectacle. I said I was insulted by the way they were handling it. Other students said they didn't appreciate these issues being treated as public relations issues, rather than actual issues. I think these were our strongest points, because everyone in that room knows coke is guilty…"
8. Take Action!
-2006 Colombia Aid Bill ($731 m) Starts Moving in Congress; Call for Change!
-Colombia Hearing in House IR Committee Raises Crucial Questions
-Gearing Up for the House Colombia Vote- As Early as June 27th!
Read Action Alert
9. Tim Lally Memorial
Many of you knew Tim Lally, who died of brain cancer on Thursday, May 12th at Methodist Hospital in Brooklyn, NY. We're sending this out to our entire list, so that we don't miss notifying anyone. Tim worked for Corporate Campaign, Inc. He came down with cancer about five years ago. If you didn't know him, you certainly should have. You can read an article in the Park Slope Food Coop's Linewaiters' Gazette at www.geocities.com/timlally821/.
Tim was a superb organizer, working for unions and tenants' causes. Tim participated in some of the major social movements of the last 20 years, fighting for rent regulation and decent housing, worker rights and the environment. After joining NYPIRG while a student at SUNY-Stony Brook, he became involved in labor struggles with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees and the United Industry Workers. We will all miss Tim's humor, love of animals and his commitment to social justice.
We will have a memorial on Sunday, May 22, at the home of Lew Friedman in Park Slope, Brooklyn, from 3 pm to 6 pm. Call us at (718) 852-2808 or (718) 788-5717 for information about the memorial.
In lieu of flowers, a donation can be made either to the Cancer Coalition to support patients who can not pay for the Burzynski treatment, a treatment that was very successful for Tim for the past five years. Contact the clinic at:
Cancer Coalition of America
9432 Old Katy Road
Houston, TX 77055
Phone Number: 713-335-5677
To read about contributions to the Coalition, go to: BurzynskiPatientGroup.org.
The clinic's web site is www.cancermed.com.
…Or a contribution can be made to the Prospect Park Alliance at (718) 965-8994 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Or a memorial tree can be planted in Tim's name. Call the same number.
The Drummond Company signed a security agreement with the union to protect workers and union leaders. Drummond has violated this agreement, exposing workers and union leadership to an increased risk of paramilitary violence.
Send Garry Drummond an email urging him to comply with the agreement and safeguard the lives of Drummond's Colombian workers and union leadership.
CAMPANA MUNDIAL CONTRA COCA-COLA
Dark Cola se une a la campana internacional contra Coca-Cola, por sus crimenes cometidos en Colombia, estamos cansados de los sindicalistas muertos, estamos cansados de los abusos contra los trabajadores, por eso nos unimos a esta causa y les mostramos a nuestros visitantes informacion sobre las violaciones de esta compania contra el mundo.
Dark Cola Website
12. New York: Say NO to Coca-Cola's Corporate Terror
Wednesday, May 25, 5 to 7 pm
At the offices of Coca-Cola
771 5th Avenue, between 55th & 56th Streets
Called by The Troops Out Now Coalition
Forbes, "Workers Picket Coca-Cola Bottler in Russia," May 20, 2005
(About 25 employees picketed a Coca-Cola bottling plant in St. Petersburg on Friday, demanding its management index their salaries to inflation, adhere to labor laws and observe the rights of trade unions. )
PR Newswire, "Coca-Cola Teamsters Unite for a Fight," May 13, 2005
("Rather than lavishing millions on country club dues and other extravagant fringe benefits for outgoing executives, CCE should invest in the health and well-being of the workers who make Coca-Cola the number one selling soft drink in America," said David Laughton, Secretary-Treasurer of the Teamsters Brewery & Soft Drink Workers' Conference and former Coca-Cola driver. "This company has no shame. They will give lifetime health coverage for a departed CEO while gutting the medical plans for their workforce.")
("Of all of the mistakes and miscalculations Coca-Cola and its bottler have made in the past decade, underestimating these workers' commitment to health care could prove to be the most costly," said Jack Cipriani, Eastern Region Vice President for the International Brotherhood of Teamsters and Director of the Brewery and Soft Drink Workers' Conference.)
The Salem News, "Column: Colombia provides a case study for evils of corporate globalization," By Brian T. Watson, May 10, 2005
Atlanta Business Chronicle, "Coca-Cola faces class-action," May 9, 2005
The Oregonian, "Soda pop industry helps kill junk food bill," By Brad Cain, May 7, 2005 (AP)
The Chronicle (Hofstra University), "Univ. Votes 'No' to Coke," By Beth Goodbaum, May 5, 2005
Inside Higher Ed, "Coke: the New Nike," By Doug Lederman, May 5, 2005
"Tomorrow in Washington, executives from Coca-Cola will meet for the first time with a broad group of college administrators and students to discuss the issue. Student leaders and college administrators have somewhat differing takes on how meaningful the private meeting is and divergent expectations on what it might produce."
15. Please send photos, reports of events, etc. for the Campaign website 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.
In addition, we would still appreciate an e-mail to stopkillercoke(at)aol.com with your name and city-state/province-country for our database so that we can contact you when there are events in your area.
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