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Coke's Lies, 'Happy' Workers & Killing Sea Birds

Newsletter | June 4, 2013

  1. Coca-Cola Shareholder Meeting Report, Atlanta, Georgia
  2. Report on Coke's 'Happy' Workers
    1. Colombia
    2. United States
    3. Canada
    4. Philippines
  3. Coca-Cola: Stop Trashing Australia & Killing Sea Birds!
  4. An Honest Translation of Coca-Cola's Dishonest Ad
  5. Runa Tea: Alternative to Coke's (Dis)Honest Tea

1. Coca-Cola Shareholder Meeting Report, Atlanta, Georgia

In the photo from left to right are: B. Wardlaw, large Coke shareholder and supporter of Campaign to Stop Killer Coke; Jeffrey Wright, former Coke employee; Tim Franzen, Occupy Our Homes/AFSC, and Ian Hoffmann, Corporate Campaign, Inc.

Ray Rogers Challenging Coke CEO Muhtar Kent's Repeated Lies:

Ray Rogers challenging Coca-Cola CEO Muhtar Kent about cheating workers and tax evasion in Mexico and racial discrimination in the U.S. It should be noted that Rogers is not shown on screen — the only shareholder not shown asking a question.

Text of Ray Rogers' statement:

"Mr. Kent,

"I appreciate our earlier discussion and hope we can have that friendly meal [you suggested] to find answers to our differences. If we do have that meal, you might want to invite Warren Buffett. I'd be very happy to sit down with both of you. Now, I have to ask you a hard question:

"You have repeatedly lied to shareholders about ongoing labor and criminal lawsuits and investigations by Mexican authorities focusing on Coca-Cola.

"In May 2011, Corpusiure, a corporate law firm headquartered in Mexico City, issued a special report titled 'The Coca-Cola Company Investigated For Tax Evasion' warning its clients not to follow in Coca-Cola's footsteps.

"The report stated, 'Despite...the investigation into the company in our country,...Muhtar Kent denied before the Annual Shareholders Meeting, that they are under investigation for tax evasion...if the accusations of fraud held against Coca-Cola were found to be true, the company would lose a figure ranging in the billions... The present investigation arose in response to the complaint filed by ex-director of market development, Angel Alvarado ...'

"At last year's annual meeting, Mr. Kent, you stated, 'The allegations raised by former employee Angel Alvarado, are not true. There are no pending investigations by... any authorities in Mexico involving our company...'

"Alberto Barranco reported on your statements in El Universal on June 7 of last year. He said, 'The truth is the CEO of Coca-Cola lied.'

"Information on the labor and criminal lawsuits accusing Coca-Cola of cheating Mexican workers and the Mexican government out of hundreds of millions of dollars can be viewed on the Mexican government's official website.

"On another matter, one of The Coke 16, the group of Black and Latino workers in New York who are suing Coca-Cola for racial discrimination, is Sandra Walker. She worked in one of the Coke plants in New York described as 'cesspools of racial discrimination'.

"Last year, Coke flew five men from those plants to the annual meeting to refute those charges. One of the men you brought down is accused in a lawsuit as saying to Ms. Walker, in front of her white supervisors, 'Black American women are not capable of washing themselves properly. They smell bad and their homes are nasty and filthy.'

The Bogus 5 flown to Atlanta for 2012 annual meeting

"To add insult to injury, Ms. Walker was suspended for five weeks, but found innocent of charges that she told a supervisor, 'You're a dead man,' after witnesses proved she told the supervisor, 'You're a racist.' Yet Sandra was never reimbursed for the five weeks lost pay.

"Sandra wants to relay this message to all of you: 'I complained about recurring abuses. This led to me being interrogated by persons from Coke's Human Resources Dept. in Atlanta. I was asked such irrational and obscene questions as,"'Sandra, do you have any personal friends who are HIV positive?" Then I was terminated.'

"So, Mr. Chairman, What is your response this year to Mr. Barranco, Mexican authorities and Sandra Walker? And I hope we have that dinner. Thank you."

B. Wardlaw introducing a resolution he sponsored calling for Coca-Cola to establish a Board Committee on Human Rights. The compan 's Board of Directors opposed the resolution but it garnered more than 3.5% of the votes and thus should appear on next year's agenda as well.

Download the Resolution in .PDF

Rebecca Neubardt Challenging Coke CEO Muhtar Kent on Bottled Water

Rebecca Neubardt, Mt. Holyoke College student and Corporate Accountability International activist challenging CEO Muhtar Kent on the bottled water issue.

An Inside View To Coca Cola's Share Holders Meeting by Tim Franzen, American Friends Service Committee/Occupy Our Homes
Read Article

"Of course Coca Cola isn't happiness in a bottle; it's high fructose corn syrup water that happened to be contained inside of very well branded container. Coca Cola's sales have not gone up, their profit has. What does that mean? It means they have been creative about how to cut from the bottom line, destroy competition, and stop their workforce from organizing. Whether that's firing staff in Atlanta for communicating to union organizers, attempting to force employees to watch anti-union propaganda, turning a blind eye to child labor in their sugar cane supply chain, ignoring the murder of bottling plant staff in Colombia who were trying to organize the workforce, intimidating college campus organizers and faculty for trying to ban all plastic bottles, I could go on and on."

2. Report on Coke's 'Happy' Workers

a. Colombia:

Workers and union leaders at Coke plants in Colombia and Guatemala are unhappy and still face great danger as is shown by this illustration. Volunteer illustrator: Brigitte Sutherland, UK, & member of Battery Operated Orchestra.

b. United States

'"CUNY Graduate Victim of Coca-Cola's Discriminatory Employment Practices,' by Shirley Irons, Street Hype, April 1-18, 2013
Read Article on page 4 of Street Hype:

"By all accounts Yvette Butler, who worked at Coca-Cola's production plant in New York City, had an exemplary record and did her job very well. She graduated from the College of Technology at the City University of New York (CUNY) and was highly qualified for her job as a production line mechanic. She was the only female African-American mechanic in the plant.

For five years, "Ms. Butler faced racial and gender discrimination, unfair and dangerous work assignments and sexual harassment from supervisors and co-workers..."

Read about Yvette Butler and profiles of other victims of Coke's racial discrimination: http://stopcokediscrimination.org

"Coke sued for alleged unfair practices" by DANIEL BLACKBURN, CalCoastNews.com, January 28, 2013
Read Article

"Arroyo Grande resident Samantha Caldwell, 43, and Mark Snay, 60, of Santa Maria [California], filed a complaint May 15, 2012, against Coca Cola alleging age and sex discrimination. Their individual actions also assert the bottling giant failed to pay appropriate overtime wages; violated the Unfair Business Practices Act; breached good faith and fair dealing; and tolerated and failed to prevent harassment...

" 'Decisions are made to eliminate mothers with children because they are unlikely to transfer or relocate as needed,' he said, citing one of the reasons for which Caldwell was allegedly terminated.

"Older employees are handled in similar fashion, 'simply by changing the job requirements a little,' McGee said. 'The discriminatory behavior of Coke is rampant, not only against women — who are told to be showy to potential clients — but against seniors and Hispanics in Santa Maria, who are told not to speak Spanish.' "

c. Canada

Representative Statements from Unhappy Canadian Coke workers:

Worker #1: "I've been working at Coca-Cola Refreshments where you start out as a part-time employee and will be doing the same job as a full-time employee but for $5 less an hour and no benefits. This can go on for years. As a part-time employee, you will be constantly moved around to different areas of production and different shifts, sometimes within the same workweek. Basically, if you don't like feeling used and abused, stay away from Coca-Cola..."

Worker #2: "You spend years as a temporary employee during which you have absolutely no benefits. There are limited opportunities to grow. As a temporary employee you go for months without being employed at the plant something they do not make clear in offering the job to you."

d. The Philippines

"With factory gates locked and operations paralyzed, Coca Cola striking workers brace up for impending dispersal," Pamantik, May 21, 2013, Laguna, Philippines
Read Article

"The union filed their notice of strike on March 22, 2013 based on the company's unfair labor practices.

"The filing was followed by their strike voting, wherein 262 out of 267 union members agreed to go on strike.

" 'The workers who toil every day for Coca Cola to take home billions of profits have been experiencing the worst working conditions under the 99%-Coca-Cola-owned Red System agency. As drivers, forklift operators, and pickers who ensure the safety and orderly release and delivery of finished products, the suffering we have endured has reached its limit.' Added [union President Fernando] Avellino.

"Drivers, who have been in service for 10 to 18 years, are paid on a per-delivery basis, with an average of P4000 for every pay date. Taxes, social service contributions, and the like are automatically deducted from their measly salary. Deliveries, they say, are long and exhausting, consuming 18 hours to and fro the factory. Delivery shortages are likewise deducted.

"Forklift operators and pickers, also in service for more than 10 years, who are in-charge of loading and unloading products for delivery work on a 12-hour shift from 6am to 6pm, receive only 3 hours worth of overtime pay. Lunch breaks are limited, where workers are often pressured to finish their lunch within 30 minutes. They are required to explain for any minute in excess.

"The absence of health and safety standards such as the company's obligation in providing restrooms is also one of the workers' main issues. Company clinics are unable to provide for their medical needs, and ill workers are forced to work and sent a 'notice to explain' once unable to perform and reach their quota...

"Subsequently, the management reduced the number of company trucks used by union members from 121 to 62. Fabricated charges were increasingly filed against union members and officers...

" 'We are all fed up with Coca Cola's greed and cruelty, and we know our strike is the only way to save our dignity. We will defend our ranks no matter what.' Ended Avellino.'

"Workers strike at Coke bottling plant in Laguna, defy court's TRO" by Maricar Cinco, Inquirer Business, May 22, 2012
Read Article

"SAN PEDRO, Laguna, Philippines — Some 250 workers, mostly delivery truck drivers, haulers and forklift operators, held their ground outside the bottling plant of the Coca-Cola Bottlers Philippines, Inc. (CCBPI) in Sta. Rosa City, Laguna on Wednesday to protest what to them were 'unfair labor practices...'

"The protest stemmed from the 'contractualization' of some 430 workers, who, Fernando said, had been with the company for eight to ten years.

"He claimed that the workers had been directly hired by the CCBPI until 2010, when they were placed under a contractual status with the The Redsystem Company Inc. (TRCI).

"The TRCI is a third-party agency and logistics arm of the CCBPI.

" 'Under the TRCI, "employees" benefits like rice subsidy and the 13th-month bonuses were all removed,' he said.

"Fernando, himself a driver, said they used to receive a fixed monthly wages but the agency started paying them P426 on a per-trip basis only.

" 'It's not everyday a driver is sent out on a trip,' he said in a phone interview.

"In July 2012, the workers petitioned for a certification election to formalize a union that would represent them in a collective bargaining agreement."

3. Coca-Cola: Stop Trashing Australia & Killing Sea Birds

Out Of Order activists hi-jack Coca-Cola's Big Prize Surprise Promotion in Sydney dressed as penguins! This action was organized to address the harm done when Coca-Cola opposed container deposit legislation and sued to stop the legislation.

Stop Coca-Cola trashing Australia & Killing Sea Birds
Watch video on YouTube

4. Video: An Honest Translation of Coca-Cola's Dishonest Ad, by CSPI

Watch on YouTube

When Coca-Cola released "Coming Together," a 2-minute ad addressing obesity, it was met with jeers and howls of laughter. Now that the laughter has died down, Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) thought it would attempt to translate the ad's Cokespeak into plain English.

5. Alternative to Coke's (Dis)Honest Tea: Fair Trade Certified Runa Tea

Runa Tea, brewed with the Guayusa plant, is an excellent and healthy alternative beverage to Coca-Cola's beverages.

"Guayusa (gwhy-you-sa) is a native Amazonian tree leaf that indigenous people in the Ecuadorian Amazon have brewed like tea for thousands of years...

"Guayusa offers a clear, focused energy by balancing as much caffeine as one cup of coffee with twice the antioxidants of green tea.

The tea comes in 14 oz. glass bottles sweetened with organic cane sugar (50 calories) or unsweetened (0 calories).