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Coca-Cola Faces Growing Opposition

Newsletter February 4, 2015

Contents

  1. American Federation of Teachers Bans Coca-Cola Products
  2. 400 Park Slope Food Coop Members Vote to Ban Coke Products
  3. Spain: Trabajadores de Coca-Cola Denuncian el Desmantelamiento de la fábrica
  4. India: Coca-Cola seeks to Subvert Constitutional Process
  5. English/Spanish Video from SINALTRAINAL President Javier Correa
  6. Soda Industry & Medical Organizations Blasted by Doctors for Conflicts of Interest
  7. Oregon Hospital System Bans Sugary Drinks
  8. Harvard Study Shows Link Between Fizzy Drinks and Cancer in Girls
  9. Coca-Cola Settles California Unpaid Overtime Class Action
  10. Mexico's Fight Against Sugary Drinks & Coca-Cola
  11. New Book—Citizen Coke: The Making of Coca-Cola Capitalism

1. American Federation of Teachers Bans Coca-Cola Products

"American Federation of Teachers Bans Coca-Cola Products" by Editor, Corporate Crime Reporter., November 24, 2014
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The American Federation of Teachers has passed a resolution banning all Coca-Cola products from its facilities and events.

In the resolution, the union called on affiliates to "participate in campaigns to remove Coca-Cola products from their schools, colleges, hospitals and other places in which they work..."

"You can always count on the American Federation of Teachers to stand up for children, labor and human rights," said Ray Rogers, lead organizer, human rights advocate and director of Corporate Campaign, Inc. and Campaign to Stop Killer Coke.

"Teachers Toss Coca-Cola!" by Joe Maniscalco, Labor Press, December 1, 2014
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"Grabbing a can of Coca-Cola at your next union meeting might be out of the question now that the American Federation of Teachers has decided to dump the soft drink giant citing a plethora of disturbing anti-labor practices dating back decades and stretching around the globe....

"Contrary to Coca-Cola's cheerleaders, Rogers says that the AFT's action is 'very significant' and follows the loss of numerous school contacts, and a growing number of other labor unions banning Coca-Cola products.

" 'I hope and expect that the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) will take similar action to protect the well-being of children and advance human rights everywhere,' Rogers added."

"1.6 Million-Member American Federation of Teachers Bans Coca-Cola Products Citing Child Labor and Human Rights Record" by Corporate Campaign, Inc., November 18, 2014
From Newsletter
PRWeb Press Release

"Corporate Campaign, Inc. applauds the American Federation of Teachers (AFT, AFL-CIO) for its historic move to ban all Coca-Cola products from its facilities and events, based on Coke's human rights record. The Union calls on affiliates to 'participate in campaigns to remove Coca-Cola products from their schools, colleges, hospitals and other places in which they work.' "

2. 400 Park Slope Food Coop Members Vote to Ban Coke Products

Brooklyn, New York's Park Slope Food Coop (PSFC), one of the largest co-ops in the U.S. with 16,200 members, again voted to continue its boycott of Coca-Cola products.

On October 28, 2014, about 400 participants in the General Meeting voted to keep the PSFC Coke-free of Coca-Cola products, including Honest Tea, Odwalla, Dasani, Minute Maid ...

Coop member and Campaign to Stop Killer Coke representative Lew Friedman began his presentation with a short history of the campaign. Then Friedman brought the Campaign up to date and pointed out the donations that Coke had laid out to stop GMO labeling, described the continuing struggle of Coke workers in Spain dismissed from their jobs, the new resolution passed by the American Federation of Teachers to ban Coke products, and that Coke has had two plants shut down in India and was forced to recently abandon a $25 million newly-built bottling plant in Mehdiganj as a result of demonstrations against the company.

At one point when Friedman brought up the dangers of excessive sugar in Coca-Cola beverages and noted that artificial sweetener aspartame may even be more dangerous than sugar, numerous heads began nodding in agreement.

The November 13, 2014 issue of The Linewaiters Gazette reported on the meeting and the outcome of the vote:

" The October General Meeting...decided nearly unanimously to continue the boycott of Coca-Cola products...

"...The Coop also voted to continue its longstanding boycott of Coca-Cola products, a response to that company's documented union busting, child labor and destructive environmental practices around the world. Readers can learn more at www.killercoke.org and www.indiaresource.org."

3. Spain: Trabajadores de Coca-Cola Denuncian el Desmantelamiento de la fábrica (Workers of Coca-Cola Denounce the Dismantling of the Factory)

Watch on YouTube

E-mail from Coke worker and union activist Dani Sobrino:

"This happened on January 15, 2015. Police protected people inside the factory who were dismantling the factory. We took those people out and got inside the factory twice. You can see in the video that the police used violence against us. They used the sticks on our faces and heads — mine was one of them. But we stopped the dismantlers."

Background from our August 30, 2014 newsletter

In Spain, Coca-Cola workers, as of August 28, have been on strike for 209 days. Sales of Coca-Cola in Spain are reported to have slumped by half, in the wake of a call for a boycott over an attempt by the company's Spanish bottler to lay off workers.

The Campaign to Stop Killer Coke received the following note from striker and union organizer, Dani Sobrino: "Thank you, very much to promote the news against Coke in Spain. I've been in contact with you before and I'm one of the 236 people that are fighting against the capitalist Coke Company. We have at the moment been on strike for 158 days [209 days as of 8/28] and we have beaten the company in the courts, but we are still waiting to get our jobs back because Coke went to the Supreme Court. We just can say thanks for all your help and we are still promoting a Coke boycott in Spain until we get our jobs back."

" 'Boycott Coca Cola,' say Spanish workers" by Barry Weisleder, Socialist Action, August 3, 2014
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"I spoke to Comisiones Obreras (CCOO) union organizer Daniel Andres Sobrino about the issues in dispute with the soft drink giant. He told me that Spain's national labour court overturned Coca Cola's dismissal of 1190 workers in that country. The decision was a big boost for the union-led campaign against four factory closures in that depressed economy. The Audiencia Nacional also called for the workers' reinstatement and payment of lost wages."

4. India: Coca-Cola seeks to Subvert Constitutional Process

Dr. S. Faizi, Expert Member, Plachimada High Power Committee issued a media release in January 2015 highly critical of Coca-Cola's continued efforts to undermine the Constitutional and judicial process in India. Coca-Cola continues its decade long efforts to avoid responsibility for the damage it did to people's lives, livelihoods, land and water in Plachimada, Kerala.

The Coca-Cola factory in Plachimada, after a firestorm of investigations and protests, was forced to shut down in 2004. It has not been allowed to reopen.

The International Environmental Law Research Centre issued a report in 2007 that stated, in part, "The deterioration of groundwater in quality and quantity and the consequential public health problems and the destruction of the agricultural economy are the main problems identified in Plachimada. The activity of The Coca-Cola Company has caused or contributed a great deal to these problems...The availability of good quality water for drinking purposes and agriculture has been affected dangerously due to the activity of the Company. Apart from that, the Company had also polluted the agricultural lands by depositing the hazardous wastes. All these point to the gross violation of the basic human rights, that is, the right to life, right to livelihood and the violation of the pollution control laws."

In 2009, the government of Kerala set up the High Power Committee to Assess the Extent of Damages Caused by the Coca-Cola Plant at Plachimada. The Committee "recommended that Coca-Cola be held liable for Indian Rupees 216 crore (US$ 48 million) for damages caused as a result of the company's bottling operations in Plachimada."

For years, Coca-Cola has continued to use its economic and political clout to avoid paying for the damage it has inflicted on Plachimada and its residents. Meanwhile other Coke plants have been forced to shut down and the protest movement against Coca-Cola's flagrant injustices across India continue to grow.

Dr. Faizi calls on the State Government not to "further delay initiating criminal proceedings against the recalcitrant company for which show cause notice was given by the Pollution Control Board in 2007, under the Hazardous Wastes Management and Handling Rules."

Contact Dr. Faizi: s.faizi111@gmail.com

5. English/Spanish Video from SINALTRAINAL President Javier Correa

SINALTRAINAL President Javier Correa sent a video of an interview with James Quincey, The Coca-Cola Company's Europe Group President (formerly president of the South Latin Division and president of the Mexico Division) by Newsnight's Jeremy Paxman on the British Broadcasting Company.

Watch James Quicey squirm at Paxman's tough questions, such as "What good does Coca-Cola do you physically?" and it gets much tougher from there.

NEWSNIGHT Paxman shows Coca Cola boss how much sugar is in a supersize cup ps3

Watch onYouTube

6. Soda Industry & Medical Organizations Blasted by Doctors for Conflicts of Interest

"The Not-So-Sweet Relief: How The Soda Industry Is Influencing Medical Organizations" by Richard Bruno, MD and Kevin Burns, MD, Union of Concerned Scientists, Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health, October 15, 2014
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"With increasing scrutiny over the dire health consequences of sugar-sweetened beverages, soda manufacturers have turned to obscuring the science, confusing the consumer, and sponsoring medical organizations whose recommendations influence both providers and patients. Unfortunately these corporate partnerships are conflicts of interest that undermine the credibility of the organizations and stymie reform.

"Most notably, the American Academy of Family Physicians (AAFP) has had a corporate partnership with The Coca-Cola Company (TCCC) since 2009, which has resulted in educational materials and underwriting of their patient information website FamilyDoctor.org. A striking example of how the partnership undermines the family physician's credibility occurs on the page for 'Diabetes,' which recommends a healthy diet, while nestled neatly next to an advertisement for Coca-Cola and a footnote acknowledging TCCC as 'partial underwriter' for the page."

Look at our report, "Buying Respectability: Coca-Cola and the Co-opting of the Social Responsibilty Movement" that discusses this issue.

7. Oregon Hospital System Bans Sugary Drinks

"Oregon hospital system Providence bans the sale of sugary drinks" by Tom Hallman Jr., The Oregonian/Oregon Live, January 6, 2015
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"...Providence Health & Services...will no longer sell or stock sugary drinks in Oregon hospitals and business offices as part of what's called a healthy dining initiative.

"On Monday, the organization removed the drinks at its Northeast Portland business office.

"During the next two months, the drinks will phased out at all eight of Providence's Oregon hospitals, clinics and businesses offices, said Sandy Miller, the organization's director of Health and Nutrition.

"Miller said studies have shown the average person in the United States consumes 48 gallons of sugary drinks each year. She said a 20-ounce bottle of soda contains as much as 18 teaspoons of sugar. Studies have shown, she said, that sugary drinks play a significant role in obesity, Type 2 diabetes and tooth decay.

8. Harvard Study Shows Link Between Fizzy Drinks and Cancer in Girls

"Fizzy drinks cause early puberty and increases cancer risk in girls, study finds: A Harvard study has shown a link between fizzy drinks and cancer in girls," The Telegraph, January 29, 2015
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"Girls who frequently drink fizzy sugary drinks are putting themselves at risk of breast cancer, research warned.

"Drinking just one-and-a-half cans a day causes early puberty and that increases their cancer risk...

"The Harvard Medical School study of 5,583 girls aged nine to 14 found those who drank more than 1.5 servings of sugary drinks a day had their first period 2.7 months earlier than those who drank two or fewer drinks a week."

9. Coca-Cola Settles California Unpaid Overtime Class Action

"Coca-Cola Settles California Unpaid Overtime Class Action " by Peter S. Lubin and Vincent L. DiTommaso, Business Litigation Lawyer Blog, January 27, 2015
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"A recent class action wage and hour lawsuit filed against Coca-Cola in California, alleges that the soft drink company had a 'use it or lose it' vacation policy, in which employees were not paid for any vacation time they did not take. According to the recent lawsuit, such practices are illegal under California labor law. Coca-Cola argues it has already revised its vacation policy and paid out all earned, unused vacation time dating back to 2008.

"The lawsuit further alleges that Coca-Cola refused to pay employees for time spent driving between job sites during the day, including driving to the first job site of the day and driving home from the last job site of the day. According to the lawsuit, employees were driving Coca-Cola vans during these commutes...

"Despite these arguments, Coca-Cola has agreed to settle the class action lawsuit for $750,000. The class covers current and former customer service technicians who responded to and repaired problems reported by Coca-Cola fountain soda machine customers. All told, the class consists of 86 class members who worked for the company between July 31, 2009 and the day the court approves the settlement. If a judge approves the settlement, Daniel Ambriz, the lead plaintiff in the class action lawsuit, will be awarded $10,000 as an incentive award for filing the lawsuit. After his award and attorneys' costs and fees, each class member will receive about $7,500..."

10. Mexico's Fight Against Sugary Drinks & Coca-Cola

"As Mexico's Sugary Drink Tax Turns 1 Year Old, US Health Proponents Hope It Can Sway American Voters" by Maria Gallucci, International Business Times, January 11, 2015
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"Mexicans are guzzling fewer sodas, juices and flavored waters since a nationwide sugary drink tax took effect in 2014. The policy aims to help curb rising rates of obesity and diabetes in Mexico, which recently overtook the U.S. as the world's fattest country. Now public health proponents north of the border say they're hoping Mexico's positive start can sway U.S. voters to adopt similar taxes...

"Proponents of taxes on sugary drinks, including public health researchers, say raising the price of sweetened beverages is an effective way to reduce consumption and, in turn, lower health risks. Mexican President Enrique Pena Nieto approved the action in October 2013 after years of interest from national health experts, who saw the tax as one antidote to Mexico's alarming diabetes rates. As many as 10 million Mexicans have diabetes, or roughly one-sixth of the population, according to government data. Nearly a half-million people died from diabetes from 2006 to 2012, a rise of nearly 60 percent from the previous six-year period...

"A year later, preliminary data suggest consumption rates are falling, though it's too early to say precisely how much...The institute's earliest results suggest in the first three months of 2014, purchases of sugary drinks dropped by 10 percent from the same period in 2013...

"This Mexican ad blames Coke for the country's obesity epidemic" by Svati Kirsen Narula, Quartz, Dec. 10, 2014
Read Article (The English translation of the video, Haz feliz a alguien, is in this article)

"In a powerful new public service announcement, the public health advocacy group El Poder del Consumidor seeks to turn even more Mexicans off soda. It borrows Coca-Cola's "Haz feliz a alguien" ("Make someone happy") tagline, but instead of depicting people raising Coke bottles in festive cheer, it features families whose Christmases have been saddened by complications of Type 2 diabetes...

El Poder del Consumidor also orchestrated a demonstration against Coca-Cola in Mexico City to coincide with the launch of this ad, according to the nutrition activist and New York University professor Marion Nestle.

Haz feliz a alguien (Video — You don't need to understand Spanish to understand the ad.)

Watch on YouTube

11. New Book—Citizen Coke: The Making of Coca-Cola Capitalism: "How Coca-Cola built a sugary empire, by outsourcing as much as possible"

"Citizen Coke: The Making of Coca-Cola Capitalism: 'How Coca-Cola built a sugary empire, by outsourcing as much as possible'" by Bartow Elmore, Fortune Magazine, Nov. 25, 2014
(Bartow Elmore is a professor of U.S. history at the University of Alabama and is the author of Citizen Coke: The Making of Coca-Cola Capitalism.)

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"...What made Coke great, in other words, was not really what it did, but what it didn't do. It proved incredibly adept at getting independent businesses and local governments to bear the majority of the costs of producing and distributing its products."