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StopCokeDiscrimination.org & Save SINALTRAINAL Union Leaders

Newsletter August 21, 2012

Contents

  1. Powerful New Website: "StopCokeDiscrimination.org"
    1. Meet the Plaintiffs/Victims
    2. Significant Documents
    3. In the Media
    4. Protest Actions
    5. Coke's Troubling History of Racial Discrimination
  2. Schedule Media Interviews with Victims of Racial Discrimination in Coca-Cola Facilities
  3. SINALTRAINAL Union Leaders/Coke Workers William Mendoza and Juan Carlos Galvis Face Phony Terrorism Charges in Colombia and NEED YOUR HELP!
  4. Please Donate to the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke

1. Powerful New Website: "StopCokeDiscrimination.org"

The New York Daily News dubbed sixteen current and fired Black and Latino employees of The Coca-Cola Co. "The Coke 16" after they filed a lawsuit against the Company for racial discrimination. The lawsuit charges that the Coca-Cola plants in Elmsford, Westchester, and Maspeth, Queens, both in New York State, are "Cesspools of racial discrimination." Workers with similar grievances who work at Coke facilities in Smithtown, New York and Carlstadt, New Jersey are also fighting back against the company for horrific injustices done to them because of their color and ethnicity.

The lawsuit claims that Black and Hispanic workers have suffered from biased work assignments and allotment of hours, unfair discipline and retaliation, and a caustic work environment where racial slurs go unchallenged by management and harassment often follows.

The lawsuit also asserts that minority workers at Coca-Cola are typically assigned to the most undesirable and physically dangerous positions. Managers contravene the seniority system by giving better jobs and more overtime hours to white workers with less seniority than minority workers. Minority workers are also denied opportunities for promotion within the company. Coca-Cola management retaliates against minority workers through unwanted scrutiny, unfair disciplinary actions, suspensions and terminations.

From the Website

This new website has five sections:

A. Meet the Plaintiffs/Victims:

In this section of the website, we profile 12 victims of Coke's racial discrimination.

For example, Sandra Walker was fired in July in retaliation for challenging ongoing abuse. She was suspended five weeks without pay, found innocent of charges that she told a supervisor, "You're a dead man" after many witnesses proved she told the supervisor, "You're a racist." She never was given her five weeks lost pay. Prior to her firing, she was interrogated by persons flown up from Coke's Human Resources Dept. in Atlanta. She was asked such questions as, "Sandra, do you have any personal friends who are HIV Positive?

Will Nunez, who is still working at the Maspeth, Queens, New York, bottling plant, was rushed by ambulance twice to the hospital thinking he was having a heart attack. He was actually suffering from panic attacks due to the stressful work environment that treats black and Latino workers like 3rd class citizens. The company is in the final stages trying to fire him. He has a wife and six young children. He is very smart, courageous and determined to stop this abuse and win justice for himself, his family and co-workers.

Ramon Hernandez was fired from his job as a haulage driver at the Elmsford plant in Westchester County, New York, in retaliation for speaking out against the many injustices to himself and his minority co-workers. Even though he supports a wife and four young children, Coca-Cola tried to prevent him from gaining unemployment benefits and new employment. He eventually got both, but only after suffering significant financial hardship and emotional harm from the discrimination on the job and the unjust termination. His young daughter asked if she could sell lemonade to earn money so the family wouldn't lose their home.

Freddy Estrada dared to speak out against the disrespect and discriminatory treatment that is all too pervasive at Coca-Cola's Carlstadt, New Jersey warehouse. He was fired in May and denied unemployment benefits on bogus charges that he stole personnel files, including his own. Coke also claimed that he tried to sell a file back to a co-worker and for that he could face extortion charges. Some weeks ago he received a call from someone in the warehouse office saying they had found his file in the office.

In retaliation for speaking up, Yvette Butler was fired from her job, lost her residence and lived in a city homeless shelter with her three children for 13 months. She endured offensive racial comments and harassment on the job, as well as unfair and dangerous work assignments. Yvette suffered from emotional depression and anxiety from the mistreatment at the hands of supervisors, managers and co-workers.

Please read about their stories and that of other victims traumatized by Coke's practice of racial discrimination in this section, victims such as Victor Borras, Evon Douglas, Oral Forbes, Luis Morales, Wayne Morrison, John Tindal and Diane Worrell.

B. Significant Documents:

These documents include the Coke 16 lawsuit against Coke, Sandra Walker's Complaint to the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) and Yvette Butler's lawsuit. These documents detail the charges that The Coke 16 are making against Coke.

C. In the Media:

The Coke 16, with the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke, has been extraordinarily active in publicizing racial discrimination in Coca-Cola facilities. In this section, there are radio interviews with plaintiffs and articles about The Coke 16.

D. Protest Actions:

Members of the Coke 16 and their families have protested against Coca-Cola in New York City. Videos of these actions are included in this section:

On July 29, 2012, the Coke 16 and Campaign To Stop Killer Coke demonstrated at the Bronx Dominican Day Parade. Watch interesting interviews with Coca-Cola victims and parade onlookers.

On July 22, 2012, the Coke 16 and the Campaign To Stop Killer Coke protested at the Queens Colombian Day Parade July 22, 2012.

On May 22, 2012, the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke and The Coke 16 demonstrated against Muhtar Kent at an Americas Society event on Wall Street. Interestingly, Kent knew protesters were there to greet him and he sneaked in through a back basement entrance.

E. Coke's Troubling History of Racial Discrimination:

Coke's history of racial discrimination goes a long way back.

The day before he was assassinated, Martin Luther King, Jr. called for a boycott of Coca-Cola products because of Coke's discriminatory practices. Listen to Dr. King and the Rev. Lowery.

In 2001, Coke was forced to settle with African-American employees for $192.5 million and there are more racial discrimination issues...

2. Schedule Media Interviews with Victims of Racial Discrimination in Coca-Cola Facilities. Please call or email Pat Clark at (718) 852-2808 or info@KillerCoke.org.

3. SINALTRAINAL Union Leaders/Coke Workers William Mendoza and Juan Carlos Galvis Face Phony Terrorism Charges in Colombia and NEED YOUR HELP!

Journalist and union icon Fred Hirsch describes in an August 15 article, "Colombian Unionists Targeted: Can Three Assassins Get a Government to Do Their Dirty Deeds?" how Juan Carlos Galvis and William Mendoza are in a tense saga where their futures and their lives are in peril. Galvis and Mendoza are two leaders in the union, SINALTRAINAL, which represents Coca-Cola workers in Colombia. Both men are being falsely accused by three former paramilitaries of planting a bomb in a Coca-Cola plant in 1998. Galvis's and Mendoza's stories are highlighted in the book, "The Coke Machine," by Michael Blanding, published in 2010.

Fred Hirsch describes how Mendoza and Galvis are fighting not only to save their own lives, but also their union:

"William Mendoza and Juan Carlos Galvis are working to save their own lives, but the fight to save their union and affirm the right of workers to organize is the passion that has driven them to this point. They clearly understand their contradictory predicament: that the harder they fight for workers' rights, the more they endanger their very lives - yet they fight."

In 2004, Galvis came to the Stop Killer Coke office in New York City shortly after narrowly surviving an assassination attempt in Colombia. While in our office, he said to us: "If we lose this fight against Coke, first we will lose our union, next we will lose our jobs, and then we will all lose our lives!" Later that day, Galvis joined the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke in distributing flyers in front of Coke Director and billionaire Barry Diller's office in midtown Manhattan.

Juan Carlos Galvis and William Mendoza

Last November, thugs invaded Galvis's home, threatened to kill his daughter and demanded information about him from his wife before she was bound and gagged and sprayed with red paint.

Some years ago, an unsuccessful attempt was made to kidnap Mendoza's four-year-old daughter. Later that day, he received a phone call from a paramilitary leader who said they did not intend to keep the little girl, but to return her "in a plastic bag." He, like Galvis, has constantly received death threats.

Read the Fred Hirsch article, "Colombian Unionists Targeted..." This article lists government officials who should be contacted in addition to the Coke officials listed below.

Send Protest Letters to The Coca-Cola Co. & Government Authorities

Now Mendoza and Galvis and their union, SINALTRAINAL, need your help. The present situation has resulted from years of Coca-Cola's complicity with its bottlers and paramilitaries in using violence to crush the union. Two key players could convince authorities that these charges are without merit. They are Ed Potter, Coca-Cola's Director of Global Labor Relations, and Coca-Cola's CEO Muhtar Kent.

Ed Potter Muhtar Kent

Ed Potter and Muhtar Kent

Let's put them on the hot seat. We ask you to send letters to and call Muhtar Kent and Ed Potter at:

The Coca-Cola Co.
One Coca-Cola Plaza
Atlanta, GA 30313

Ed Potter: (404) 676-2379
Muhtar Kent: (404) 676-2121

4. Please Donate to the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke

Many are surprised to learn that the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke, which has mobilized thousands of volunteers worldwide, receives no outside funding. The Campaign needs contributions to continue and to expand its efforts. Campaign to Stop Killer Coke's founding organization, Corporate Campaign, Inc., has financed the campaign with tens of thousands of professional staff hours and hundreds of thousands of dollars. Your help is needed and greatly appreciated!

Click HERE to see information and the history of Corporate Campaign, Inc.

To contribute through PayPal, go to: http://www.killercoke.org/contribute.php

or send a check made out to "Campaign to Stop Killer Coke" to:

Campaign to Stop Killer Coke
Cooper Station, PO Box 1002
New York, NY 10276-1002

(718) 852-2808
www.KillerCoke.org

Please forward this newsletter to your friends and fellow activists and help spread the word.