Stop Killer Coke Update February 4, 2010
International Headaches for Coke
- Crowds Line Up to See 'The Coca-Cola Case' in Canada
- Schools and Coke Boycotts
- South Africa Coke Workers Call for Boycott of Coke Products
- "What Coca-Cola Did to Stop The Union from Coming In"
- Shut Down the SOA (School of Americas) & The Campaign to Stop Killer Coke
- A Tribute to the Memory of Sam Hirsch, Long-Time Activist
Click here to join the Facebook site for "The Coca-Cola Case."
Articles about the controversial film, "The Coca-Cola Case," have started showing up all over the world — Canada; Atlanta, Georgia; Sweden; Italy, and Greece. The film was produced by filmmakers Carmen Garcia, German Gutierrez and the National Film Board (NFB) of Canada. Cinema Politica, a Montreal-based film collective, and the NFB initiated a tour of the film in January before packed auditoriums and theaters in Montreal, Vancouver, Ottawa and New Brunswick and it has been receiving accolades from audiences and anger from Coca-Cola.
The NFB and Cinema Politica received threatening letters in January from the lawyers for Coca-Cola stating that the film tour for "The Coca-Cola Case" violates a confidentiality agreement. A similar letter was sent to the Alliance in France in efforts to censor the film from being shown at the International Human Rights Film Festival in Paris in March. The film will be kicking off the festival. Campaign to Stop Killer Coke Director Ray Rogers applauded the courage of the National Film Board of Canada and Cinema Politica for "standing up to the veiled threats, bullying and intimidation tactics of The Coca-Cola Company which has unsuccessfully tried to censor and suppress this film."
Reports on "The Coca-Cola Case" Screenings
"Last night we screened The Coca Cola Case as part of a huge international tour of the film throughout the CP Network. The screening at Concordia University was the launch event and we had Ray Rogers of the Stop Killer Coke Campaign and filmmakers Carmen Garcia (both pictured below speaking to the full house last night) and German Gutierrez in attendance.
"For the first time in our history we turned away over 200 people!! The venue holds about 700, so this means we had over 900 people show up to see this great documentary. We have only ever turned people away a few times in the past, including screenings of The Corporation, Darwin's Nightmare and Roadsworth.
"So the media attention around Coke's lawyers sending us an intimidating letter has helped get the word out, and we hope that the momentum builds right across the country and even abroad. This week Svetla is doing an interview with a Swedish newspaper (the film screens at our CP Stockholm local) and today or tomorrow the CBC in Yellowknife would like a radio interview with me.
"So yes, an exciting beginning to what is promising to be a great tour of an excellent film!"
Carmen Garcia speaking to a packed house of 700 (200 were turned away.)
Campaign to Stop Killer Coke Director Ray Rogers speaking at Concordia University
Report from Carleton University:
"When Carleton Cinema Politica first heard about Concordia's overwhelmingly successful premiere of the Coca Cola Case we immediately had two thoughts. First, there was euphoria and excitement. The amount of media buzz and the fact that almost 1,000 people showed up was astonishing. This feeling was quickly followed by 'wow, we've got big shoes to fill!' Although we weren't able to get any Ottawa media to touch the story - partly due to the national coverage that had already taken place - we received an extraordinary amount of interest in the film in the week leading up to the premiere.
Cautiously optimistic, we expected to have about 150 people in an auditorium that seats about 240. By the time we were ready to start the auditorium was absolutely packed, not only shattering our expectations but setting a new record for Carleton Cinema Politica. We had people standing and sitting in the aisles and some decided upon arrival to forego navigating the congestion. We were also very proud to have Maude Barlow, National Chairperson of the Council of Canadians, and Peter Julian, MP for Burnaby - New Westminster, in attendance."
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, "Film aimed at Coca-Cola draws icy response," By Jeremiah McWilliams, January 27, 2010
"Forget 'happy,' the ubiquitous marketing theme from Coca-Cola Co. When it comes to a new documentary accusing the company of human rights abuses in Colombia, consider the company 'steamed.' Colombia is a nagging public relations problem that refuses to go away, despite Coca-Cola's wins in court."
CKDU, Operation Wake Up! "The Bottle Breakers Come: Halifax anticipates arrival of Coca-Cola critical film," By Tiffany Limgenco, January 26, 2010
"[Halifax-based coordinator of Cinema Politica Abad] Khan points to the successful ban of Coca-Cola products on other campuses as a real threat to Coca-Cola. 'As you know, many universities, including Saint Mary's University and University of King's College in Halifax, sign exclusivity contracts to market and sell soft drink products on campus. [T]his film could be used as a catalyst to spur debate, to challenge Coke's Olympic branding image, ultimately leading the schools to divest from Coke if these tactics don't change. Coke has stated that bottling plants act independently but the influence of the company is undeniable; they not only own shares in those plants but the bottlers are beholden to Atlanta. They could stop this if they wanted to.' ”
tvxs.gr, Article on 'The Coca-Cola Case," January 26, 2010 [This article is in Greek]
Flamman [Sweden], "Ett sätt att försöka skrämma oss" ["One way to try to scare us"], January 21, 2010
Read Article in Swedish
Il Giornale.it [Italy], "Film contro la Coca Cola: sfrutta manodopera L'azienda: non è vero" January 21, 2010
Read Article in Italian
A Blogger's View of "The Coca-Cola Case," By Laurence Miall, January, 19, 2010
"At the film"s conclusion, you wish that Coke were not such a corporate behemoth that it can so often dodge the activist lawyers and filmmakers who try to hold it to account. It is remarkable the number of times in the film where Coca-Cola"s representatives are public no-shows; they always insist on doing everything behind closed doors. When Ray Rogers, anti-Coke activist, presented his case at the University of Chicago, filmmakers captured the whole thing. Many of those in attendance were anti-Ray Rogers and pro-Coke. Nevertheless, when Coke personnel showed up for their part of the debate in the same lecture hall immediately afterward, they demanded that the cameras leave."
Kelowna.com [Canwest News Service], "Killer Coke? Controversial film The Coca-Cola Case draws fire from soft- drink giant," January 21, 2010
" 'We don't think the guys in Atlanta called Colombia and ordered the killing of these guys because they are troublemakers,' Gutierrez said in an interview from Montreal, 'However,' he said, Coke headquarters in Atlanta did not step in to stop them. 'One simple phone call from Atlanta to these Colombia guys would stop these killings,' Gutierrez said. He pointed out that, in 1981, Coke refused to renew the contract with a franchise bottling plant in Guatemala after the murders of union leaders there, and those killings stopped."
CBC News, "Coke discourages screenings of labour documentary," The Canadian Press, January 18, 2010
"It seems that a documentary critical of soft-drink giant Coca-Cola has left a bitter taste with the company."
The Media Co-op: a project of the Dominion News Cooperative, "Sickly Sweet Censorship: Despite legal threats, screenings of film ciritical of Coca-Cola to continue," by Tim Mcsorley, January 15, 2010
“During the shoot they approached one of the main characters to ask us to cut two scenes from the film. We decided not to [because] the information is all publicly available,” he explains. “Then we reached an agreement that we could screen the film on two conditions. One is that Coke's lawyers can attend all screenings. [Two], that we inform Coke of all screenings all over the planet. So now, with this letter to Cinema Politics, we are surprised...”
“[Coke is] trying to use this momentum to try and censor the documentary, because they see Cinema Politica for what we are: a student run, grassroots organisation,” says Ezra Winton, programing director for the group. “Lawyers think it would be easier to censor the film in the hands of a grassroots organisation, that we would be censored easily. They also see that the film didn't quietly run the festival circuit and then disappear, it's still screening in over two dozen Cinema Politica locals in Canada and overseas.”
Read this article in The Dominion
Art-Threat, "Coca-Cola intimidates student group over film screening," by Michael Lithgow, January 15, 2010
"What may have the soft drink giant so jittery is that the film is set to screen at 17 campuses in an upcoming cross-Canada tour co-sponsored by one of the film"s producers, the respected National Film Board of Canada. It is also slated to screen at 24 of Cinema Politica"s locals from Halifax to Stockholm, many of which are located at universities. Coca-Cola is well known for the deals made with universities for the exclusive sale of Coke products."
The Concordian, "A bottle of pop has profit margins to kill for Coca-Cola exploitation examined at Cinema Politica movie screening," By Michael Connors, January 12, 2010
" 'The Coca-Cola Case' documents an organized effort to hold Coca-Cola accountable for the murder of numerous union workers in Columbia"s Coca-Cola factories. The film exposes the distance that Coke executives try to create from actions taken on behalf of the company. The film depicts executives passing the blame onto contractors making their own choices, and claiming zero accountability."
community.hour.ca, "The Cinema politica vs. Coca-Cola classic," January 13, 2010
"Controversy is bubbling up over the screening and distribution of a new documentary about the Coca-Cola company set to premiere in Montreal at Cinema Politica next week."
The Gazette, "Cinema Politica and a case of Coke," By Peggy Curran, January 12, 2010
"Cinema Politica says it's not about to bow to pressure from Coca Cola to can a national tour of a controversial documentary that shows the soft drink giant in an unsavory light. At least not without a decent fight, which began with a frenzied and animated Facebook campaign."
Cinema Politica's web site
"Talk to Martin Gil: His brother Isidro was killed at point-blank range while working at the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Carepa, because he was part of a union bargaining unit. Like most violent crimes committed against Colombian union leaders, Gil"s murder went unpunished. However, U.S. lawyers Daniel Kovalik and Terry Collingsworth, as well as activist Ray Rogers, stepped in and launched an ambitious crusade against the behemoth Coca-Cola."
Hour.ca [Canada], "The Coca-Cola Case: Sickly sweet," By Meg Hewings, January 14, 2010
"The suit and film have generated bad buzz around the Coke brand, and the company has sent letters to try to block Cinema Politica and the NFB from showing the film, citing confidentiality issues..."
"While the doc narrows in on the intricacies of the three-year saga fought by U.S. lawyers Daniel Kovalik and Terry Collingsworth, and highlights the activist antics of Ray Rogers (who spearheaded the Killer Coke campaign), the most compelling and telling scenes take place when two Colombian teens who deliver Coke tell their story. They make $1 an hour and work 15 hour/day shifts. They rent the trucks, buy the gas and their uniforms, and pay out-of-pocket if bottles are broken or stolen. They fear for their lives, especially if they ask for better working conditions."
The Link, "Coca-Cola lawyers threaten Cinema Politica: Claims upcoming film screenings violate confidentiality agreements," by Madeline Coleman, January 12, 2010
"Concordia-based film collective Cinema Politica received a threatening letter on Jan. 11 from the lawyers for Coca-Cola stating that the network"s planned film tour for documentary The Coca-Cola Case violates a confidentiality agreement. The film follows two American lawyers and union leaders as they attempt to bring a case against the soda pop giant for its alleged complicity in the murders of union leaders at Colombian bottling plants."
The Link, "Corruption Classic: The murder of union leaders at Coca-Cola plants should leave a bad taste in your mouth, say filmmakers," By Madeline Coleman, January 12, 2010
Read Interview with German Gutierrez
"There just might be blood in that bottle of Coke. In their documentary The Coca-Cola Case, filmmakers Carmen Garcia and Germán Gutiérrez show that a corrupt government coupled with dependence on cheap labour and marauding paramilitaries make Colombia a perilous place to be a union leader. Coca-Cola plants are no exception. The film accuses the Coca-Cola Co. of complicity in the brutal and near-routine assassinations of eight union leaders by right-wing paramilitaries at Colombian Coca-Cola bottling plants over the last 16 years."
National Film Board of Canada, "The Coca-Cola Case (A synopsis), By German Gutierrez and Carmen Garcia
Click here to watch the synopsis of "The Coca-Cola Case."
"The Coca-Cola Case," By German Gutiérrez and Carmen Garcia
" 'The truth that refreshes'
"In this feature length documentary, directors German Gutiérrez and Carmen Garcia present a searing indictment of the Coca-Cola empire and its alleged kidnapping, torture and murder of union leaders trying to improve working conditions in Colombia, Guatemala and Turkey.
"The filmmakers follow labour rights lawyers Daniel Kovalik and Terry Collingsworth and Campaign to Stop Killer Coke (www.killercoke.org), Director Ray Rogers, as they attempt to hold the giant U.S. multinational beverage company accountable in this legal and human rights battle."
To order “The Coca-Cola Case:”
To order the film, go to http://www.thecoca-colacase.org. For those outside the United States, order the film through Jenny Thibault of the National Film Board of Canada, telephone : 514-283-9189, email: firstname.lastname@example.org For those in the United States, order directly from Campaign to Stop Killer Coke. (in the U.S., pay through PayPal at www.killercoke.org or send a check or money order to: Campaign to Stop Killer Coke; Cooper Station, PO Box 1002; New York, NY 10276-1002.)
From Ng Lena, BRG Schloss Wagrain, Vöcklabruck, Austria, Nov. 2, 2009:
Last year I told you that we're trying to get Coca-Cola out of our school. And we did it! Since the beginning of the new school year, there's no more Coke at our school.
The problem about the whole thing is that all students, except for a little group, don't know why there's no Coke at our school… But when I told some of my classmates, why we don't want to have Coke again, they were really surprised.
So I think when they get some time to think about that what I told them, most of the students will be in agreement with our decision.
I really think they only need some time…My religion teacher also told his classes why we have no more Coke and I think other teachers also will do it. So, I think in a month, they will all know the reasons for getting Coke out of our school.
From Sharon Natt, Reading University Student Union, UK:
Just had some fantastic news…due to pressure and success of our Killer Coke Campaign, Reading University"s Student Union is now installing TWO fair trade drinks machines in the unlicensed social space in the RUSU union! (as per the amended motion).
This would not have happened without our campaign, so well done!!!
Much love to everyone. Keep the campaign for fair trade going.
The power of the individual is infinite!
The Daily Evergreen [Washington State University], "Students fight Coke with Pepsi: In an effort to stop WSU from renewing a contract with Coke, students protested on Wednesday," By Kerry Gugliotto, January 21, 2010
"The Progressive Student Union rallied Wednesday on Glenn Terrell Mall to protest Coca-Cola on campus...Members were on the mall from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. handing out fliers and giving out free Jones Soda, Pepsi and root beer... 'A world-class university like WSU should not endorse companies like Coke' "
ATTAC Norge, "Norwegian campuses remove Coca-Cola," December 18, 2009
Read Original Article in Norwegian
"Colleges and universities in Norway have decided not to renew Coca-Cola contract with the country's student welfare. – 'A big win,' said Martin Giset in Attac Blindern. Students around Norway have had campaigns to remove Coca-Cola's monopoly on the campuses. The campaign has, among other things, put spotlight on Coca-Cola misuse of water resources in India. Students have argued that Coca-Cola's market share of 90% of campuses have made it difficult for students to buy other, more ethical products." (This is a Google translation.)
Read Press Release from the India Resource Center.
India Resource Center, "Norway Campuses Reject Coca-Cola: Contract Not Renewed, Ethical Concerns Raised in Decision," December 14, 2009
Read Press Release
"In another major victory for the international campaign against Coca-Cola, colleges and universities in Norway have decided not to renew the exclusive contract with Coca-Cola."
Universitas, "Criticizing Coca-Cola: The Welfare Council has demanded that SiO confronts Coca-Cola with what they believe to be a lack of social responsibility when the association negotiates a new deal with the soft drinks giant next year," November 12, 2008
"The mood was steaming during the soft drinks debate at Monday"s Welfare Council (VT) meeting. A large majority passed a resolution asking the Foundation for Student Life in Oslo (SiO) to be tougher on the Coca-Cola Company...Through a major deal with SiO, Coca-Cola Drikker AS has been given spaces for vending machines on campus and in student housing, and have also been given dominance in fizzy drinks sales at the student canteen. The basis for the suggestion from VT is the company"s alleged undermining of worker"s unions in Latin America, especially Colombia, and destruction of the environment in India."
India Resource Center, "Norway Students Vote to Restrict Coca-Cola: Seek Ethical Alternatives to Coca-Cola," November 11, 2008
Read Press Release
"Students at the University of Oslo have voted overwhelmingly to restrict the dominant presence of Coca-Cola products on campus, and introduce ethical alternatives to Coca-Cola on campus. In a resolution passed yesterday at the University of Oslo Welfare Council (Velferdstinget I Oslo), the student body will now seek to restrict significantly the size of Coca-Cola's contract, offer alternative beverages that are ethical and fair trade as well as adopt more stringent criteria for ensuring that companies that do business with the University of Oslo have strong environmental and ethical records. The student body will also inform Coca-Cola of their decision to restrict Coca-Cola, citing the company's practices in India."
Coca-Cola workers in South Africa went on strike on December 23. Since then, the strike has gotten more militant with the union calling for a boycott of Coca-Cola products and asking the football organizing committee to cancel Coca-Cola"s marketing at the World Cup in June.
Times [South Africa], "Strikers call for Coca-Cola advert ban at World Cup," By Kea' Modimoeng, January 24, 2010
"In a bid to intensify the impact of the strike, Fawu and labour federation Cosatu called on South Africans to boycott SAB and ABI products. Earlier this week, the union wrote a letter to football body Fifa's organising committee chief executive Danny Jordaan asking him to cancel Coca-Cola marketing at the upcoming World Cup.
"Fawu general secretary Katishi Masemola said his union was committed to engaging in a campaign to "smash" the brand and expose abusive practices of labour brokers and the exploitation of crew members in ABI delivery trucks bearing the Coca-Cola logo."
Food Biz Daily, "FBD: South Africa Unions called for boycott of Coca-Cola Company products," January 20, 2010
Read Press Release
"The Food and Allied Workers' Union (Fawu) is planning a to launch a campaign against Coca-Cola products after unsuccessful wage talks with Amalgamated Beverages Industries, one of the largest producers and distributors of Coca-Cola products in the southern hemisphere. South Africa Unions called for boycott of Coca-Cola Company products due to current disagreements about the amount of the annual salary increases."
Eyewitness News (South Africa), "FAWU vows massive strike," By Matshidiso Madia, January 8, 2010
"The Food and Allied Workers" Union"s members will not back down until drinks giant ABI agrees to their wage demands...FAWU said the strike was gaining international support with ABI employees from Atlanta and London pledging their solidarity."
Daily Dispatch (South Africa), "Soft drink workers on strike," December 24, 2009
"ABOUT 2700 soft drink workers countrywide went on strike yesterday, threatening to run the country dry of Coca-Cola."
Jeffrey Wright was a worker for Coca-Cola in Atlanta, Georgia. At a meeting of workers in his plant called by executives to stop the union from being voted in, Wright asked a question about whether the promises that the executives were making would be carried out. Wright was later approached by Coke executives who offered him thousands of dollars in exchange for his help to keep the union out…
Information about the book, the author and how to order it from the web site:
"What Coca-Cola Did to Stop the Union from Coming In"
by Jeffrey Wright
How far will a company go to protect its own interest? Jeffrey Wright knows. In an attempt to crush union support in the workplace, Wright"s employer offered him monetary compensation and continued employment - if he would persuade his coworkers to vote out the union. With honesty and integrity, Wright took on his employer and filed criminal charges against them with the FBI indicting two top executives. This is one man"s story about risking everything in the name of justice.
About the Author:
Raised in Columbus, Georgia, by a single mother, Ms. Arula Wright. He was the fifth child of six. At the age nineteen, he moved to Atlanta, Georgia, where he currently resides with his wife and two children. His objective while writing this novel was to share knowledge with people about corporate misuse and describe to the reader the difference between the facts of corporate misconduct as opposed to the prestigious advertising companies use to promote themselves. He hopes that this book will provide readers with insight in the extremes in which companies will go through to defeat all endeavors to enforce a union. All situations in this book are true.
“This is a true story about me and a personal experience I encountered.”
(2009, paperback, 46 pages)
For more information about the book: http://www.dorrancebookstore.com/whcodidtostu.html
Campaign to Stop Killer Coke Returned to Atlanta
The World of Coca-Cola is located in the heart of Atlanta. Adjacent to the Aquarium and on the edge of Millennium Park, the World of Coca-Cola stands just across the park from the headquarters of CNN. A medium sized building with various Coke emblems on the side, the World of Coke is a gigantic tribute to…itself! What better place to protest one of the world"s most unethical companies.
On a breezy 19th of November morning, the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke and Witness for Peace descended on the World of Coke to stage a protest of Coke"s human rights abuses. Joining the campaign were eighty activists, including Salem State College Professor Avi Chomsky, SINALTRAINAL union member Gerardo Cajamarca, Ken Crowley and other members of Witness for Peace and School of Americas Watch. Also joining the campaign was our Killer Coke mobile billboard, emblazoned with “Unthinkable! Undrinkable!” What better backdrop to send a message to the World of Coca-Cola and their visitors.
Protesters held a variety of posters and large banners, many reading “Stop Killer Coke” and “Shut Down SOA.” Stop Killer Coke leaflets were handed to those passing by and to young school children heading into the World of Coke. (It"s hard to imagine what the educational value of a trip to the World of Coke is!) Protesters also marched through Millennium Park and lined the street across from CNN headquarters, much to the interest of CNN employees heading out for their lunch break.
It was only seven months earlier when the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke"s mobile billboard had circled the World of Coke for hours, much to the chagrin of Coke. That trip had been a major success, as Coca-Cola"s annual shareholder"s meeting was dominated by critics of the company and this trip could be called nothing short of a success, as well. The World of Coke and the City of Atlanta are getting to know of the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke and of Coke"s human rights and environmental abuses. And Coke ought not fear, “we"ll be back!”
Campaign to Stop Killer Coke Participates in School of Americas Protest
Following a very successful protest at the World of Coke in downtown Atlanta, members of the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke raced down to Columbus, Georgia, two hours southwest of Atlanta. Columbus is a sleepy southern town, most famous, or perhaps infamous, for being the home of the School of Americas at Fort Benning. It would also be our home, as well as thousands of protesters, for the weekend of November 20-22, 2009.
Arriving in Columbus just on time, the Campaign headed first to Howard Johnson"s Hotel where Campaign Director Ray Rogers was part of a panel discussion, facilitated by Witness for Peace. The audience of 250 people were engaged as Ray told them of the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke and the importance of events like the Scholl of Americas (SOA) protest.
The weekend proved to be a marathon of events, and after Rogers" presentation at the Witness for Peace panel, the Campaign headed to the Convention Center where the SOA Watch was based. Thousands of people of all ages and backgrounds flooded the convention center where dozens of events were staged. Friday night was set to be the U.S. premier of "The Coca-Cola Case,” and our team was busy setting up the room. Lew Friedman was busy handing out hundreds of Killer Coke leaflets in the lobby, while Ray Rogers and Ian Hoffmann set up the film. By seven o"clock the room was absolutely packed, overflowing into the hallway and over a dozen young people were forced to sit on the floor in front. In the audience, was Lesley Gill, professor at Vanderbilt University and author of The “School of the Americas: Military Training and Political Violence in the Americas.” With 150 people in the audience, “The Coca-Cola Case” made its debut and what a hit it was! Following the presentation, Ray answered questions from the audience while participants waited in line to obtain Killer Coke T-Shirts, posters and to order copies of the film.
Following the success of the film, we placed Killer Coke literature on over three thousand chairs in the Convention Center. Over the weekend, we handed out over 10,000 pieces of literature. However, it was really our mobile billboard back and forth along Veterans Parkway, the main drag of Columbus, that caught people"s eyes. Numerous people came up to us commenting on the billboard. Many people had actually seen the billboard on the highway heading down to Columbus from Atlanta. Anyone that didn"t know about Coke"s human rights and environmental abuses before the weekend, sure did by Sunday afternoon.
A good night's sleep and hearty breakfast provided all the fuel we needed for Saturday. Most of the day was spent at “our table” in the Convention Center distributing literature and speaking with people about the campaign. And that afternoon, The Campaign moved to the Gates of Fort Benning and “The School of Assassins.” Fifteen thousand protesters marched to the gates of the military complex and four brave individuals climbed over the fence and were sentenced to six months in federal prison. This act was in the spirit of Martin Luther King, Jr. and Gandhi and Pres. Obama should quickly consider a pardon for these heroic people who represent the conscience of America. Many protesters held “Stop Killer Coke! Shut Down SOA!” posters as local police and military police looked on, and security helicopters circled above.
On Saturday afternoon, Ray Rogers spoke to a packed room in a workshop on the “Campaign to Stop Killer Coke.” Following his presentation, Ray took over a dozen questions from the younger audience who gathered up materials to bring back to their campuses. Seeing numerous students eager to kick Coke off of their campuses was certainly a highlight of the weekend.
By the time evening came around, we were set for the second showing of “The Coca-Cola Case.” By Saturday, buzz around the film had spread and 250 people filled into the meeting room at Howard Johnsons. The film was, again, a huge success and many volunteers signed up to support the Campaign.
It was difficult leaving Columbus. Meeting so many inspiring people from all over the world was truly inspirational, but by Sunday we were nearly done. Having packed up and checked out, we headed back to Fort Benning. The vigil on Sunday was somber and emotional. With gray skies and occasional rain, the helicopters overhead reminded us where we were. Names of those killed by SOA graduates are spoken one by one, and after each name, we all repeated, “Presente.” They remain with us in spirit and provide us a constant reminder that justice is needed.
Our weekend was over. But our work is not.
By Ian Hoffmann
Samuel Hirsch, life-long labor and civil rights activist and U.S. Army veteran, died on December 2, 2009 at the age of 86. Sam was co-founder of the Greater New York Labor-Religion Coalition with the late Rev. Robert Kennedy at a time of plant closings and eroding workers' rights.
He was instrumental in the passage of lead paint regulations and worked tirelessly for heath care reform. He was also very active in the civil rights struggles in the 1960s, the movement to end apartheid in South Africa, the painters' and culinary workers' unions. His activism led to him becoming a target of McCarthyism.
In the 1970s, while on the staff of the Amalgamated Clothing and Textile Workers Union, Sam played an important role in helping southern textile workers to secure their first contract with textile giant, J.P. Stevens, and then became an organizer with Corporate Campaign, Inc. from 1981 until his death.
All of us at Corporate Campaign and the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke will miss Sam's smile, wit, dedication and fierce determination to end injustice.
A tribute to Sam will be held on:
Tuesday, February 9, 2010
Tamiment Library & Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives
70 Washington Square South
(West 4th btwn LaGuardia and Greene Streets)
New York, NY 10012
Reception at 6pm, followed by a tribute at 7-9pm.
If possible, please RSVP to email@example.com or (718) 852-2808.