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Campaign to Stop Killer Coke Update

Newsletter September 10, 2004

Contents of This Newsletter

  1. Campaign Protest at Copa during RNC
  2. Summary of Labor Gains During Past Four Months
  3. Prevent the Theft of the 2004 Presidential Election
  4. Communique from Luis Javier Correa Suarez: Coca-Cola's Legal Spiderweb to Impede Workers' Affiliation to SINALTRAINAL

1. Hundreds turn out for protest at Coke-sponsored RNC event
Several hundred vocal protestors from many states and representing numerous organizations carrying signs, banners, bells, drums, pots and pans, and noisemakers fashioned from soda cans demonstrated for three-and-a-half hours at a Coca-Cola-sponsored event for Latino Republican delegates. The demonstration was organized by the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke at the Copacabana club in Manhattan during the Republican National Convention. The Campaign built the demonstration by distributing Campaign literature at numerous RNC protests and through the Internet.

This demonstration came on the heels of a successful protest against Coke at the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA) convention described below. The demonstration received some good radio and television coverage on the following day. For photos taken at the demonstration, go to the Protest Pics section of our website at: www.killercoke.org/protest.php.

2. We would like to summarize the gains that the Campaign has made working with the labor movement on the national and the international labor fronts, especially over the past four months. In addition to actions taken by national and international bodies, hundreds of locals and labor councils have been supporting the campaign to hold Coca-Cola accountable for its human rights abuses. Some of the highlights include:

A. On August 31, Communications Workers of America (CWA), which represents 700,000 members, passed a resolution at their national convention in Anaheim, CA, which resolved:

"BE IT RESOLVED THAT, the Communications Workers of America, AFL-CIO, supports the 'Unthinkable! Undrinkable!' petition campaign directed at Coca-Cola's Board of Directors and will communicate to SunTrust Banks, Inc. that unless the Alien Tort Claims Act lawsuit is settled by October 15 and the safety and rights of workers in the Coca-Cola Colombian bottling plants are protected, the CWA will support SINALTRAINAL's divestment and boycott campaign against SunTrust Banks, Inc and will urge our members to do the same."

This resolved was preceded by the following explanation of the SunTrust/Coca-Cola connection:

"WHEREAS, top policymakers and corporate structures of The Coca-Cola Co. and SunTrust Banks are so intertwined, it is difficult to distinguish one from the other;

"WHEREAS, five present and former CEOs of The Coca-Cola System and SunTrust Banks, Inc. as well as other top policymakers serve as top policymakers of both Coca-Cola and SunTrust Banks, Inc.;

"WHEREAS, SunTrust Banks, Inc. owns more than 5% of The Coca-Cola Company's common stock and provides hundreds of millions of dollars in loans to the Coca-Cola Co."

Richard Wagner, president of CWA Local 1183 of New York City, introduced the resolution. In speaking on the resolution, Brother Wagner said: "There are people dying in Colombia for being in a union. They are depending on us to help them. They are being forced to quit the union at the point of a gun and union leaders are being killed. This is not right."

We already have a number of organizations that have substantial funds in SunTrust Banks that are ready to back the boycott and divestment camapign of the Bank. We expect this list to grow immensely. Please contact us if you are interested in working on or supporting this critical aspect of the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke. Please call Ray or Lew at (718) 852-2808 or e-mail to info@KillerCoke.org

B. In August, the American Postal Workers Union (APWU), with 270,000 members, passed a resolution at their national convention in Los Angeles, CA, which resolved:

"That the national American Postal Workers Union requests that the United States Postal Service remove all Coca-Cola products from all postal facilities, and

"That the national American Postal Workers Union requests that all unions, State and Local American Postal Workers Unions, stop purchasing all Coca-Cola products until this issue (Colombian) is resolved."

Delegates from Iowa, Minnesota, North Dakota and South Dakota initiated the resolution and, along with others, distributed thousands of pieces of Campaign literature to the delegates.

Photos of convention delegates holding Campaign protest signs are now on our website in our Protest Pics section at: www.killercoke.org/protest.htm.

For further information, contact Greg Poferl at: gpoferl@apwu.org.

C. On August 27th, the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement (LCLAA), a constituency group of the AFL-CIO, representing the interests of 1.7 million Latino workers who are members of a union or labor association in the 50 states and Puerto Rico, passed a motion rebuking The Coca-Cola Co. at their national convention in Albuquerque, NM.

Upon arriving at the Labor Council for Latin American Advancement's (LCLAA) convention, held from Aug. 25-28 in Albuquerque, New Mexico, delegates learned that The Coca-Cola Co. was a co-sponsor of their convention. We were contacted by Jose Schiffino and Delegate David Galarza, both of CSEA Local 1000/AFSCME, asking for Campaign literature, which we immediately shipped.

We also sent a communique to the convention describing Coca-Cola's abuses in Colombia and elsewhere and made an appeal that: "In light of this horrific record of abuse, LCLAA should not lend its name and credibility to Coca-Cola nor should it serve as a marketplace or venue for its advertising. We hope that LCLAA will take appropriate action to send the strongest possible message to The Coca-Cola Co."

A motion was overwhelmingly passed that called for handing back to Coca-Cola its $10,000 sponsorship and to request that the AFL-CIO fund a LCLAA fact-finding delegation to Colombia.

The resolution was introduced by David Galarza, member of CSEA Local 1000, AFSCME and member of the LCLAA New York City chapter and the NYC Justice Committee. The motion was supported by New York City Central Chapter members Eladio Diaz of TWU Local 100, Ed Vargas of UNITE HERE, and Sonia Ivany of NYS AFL-CIO and LCLAA NYC Central Chapter president. SEIU Local 790 Delegate Frank Martin del Campo spoke passionately in support of the motion. After the motion was passed, Santos Crespo of AFSCME District Council 37 congratulated the body and stated that this was an historic moment in the history of LCLAA.

D. On July 4, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT), with 1.3 million members, passed a resolution at their national convention in Washington, DC, which resolved:

"...take additional note of the responsibility of the international business community, particularly U.S. firms such as the Coca-Cola Company, to increase their own efforts to ensure that the workers who produce and deliver their products are treated with dignity and respect in accordance with the law, collective bargaining agreements and international treaties; and

"encourage AFT locals and individual members to participate in a letter writing campaign to the Coca-Cola Company to pressure its Colombian branch to stop its harassment of employees seeking union representation and to respect basic trade union rights..."

E. In June, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), with 1.7 million members, passed a resolution at their national convention in San Francisco, CA, which resolved:

"Support the world-wide call to boycott Coca-Cola and work to win broad AFL-CIO support for the campaign against killer Coke..."

F. The International Longshore and Warehouse Union, with 60,000 members, passed a resolution in Spring 2003 resolving:

"That the ILWU join the boycott of Coca-Cola and do all it can to publicize the boycott around the world."

G. The South Bay AFL-CIO Labor Council, passed a resolution in June 2003 to:

"THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED, that our organization supports the "Unthinkable! Undrinkable!" challenge to Coca-Cola's public image that SINALTRAINAL's Campaign to Stop Killer Coke is launching this summer, and we call upon our members, affiliates, the State Federation of Labor, our international union and the AFL-CIO to do the same; and

"BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, because we cannot support a company that profits from murder and torture, that we support SINALTRAINAL's campaign to distribute one million "Unthinkable! Undrinkable!" protest petitions addressed to Coca-Cola's Board of Directors (P.O. Box 1734, Atlanta, GA 30301); and

"BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED, that we urge labor and human rights organizations to sever all business ties with SunTrust Bank until such time as the bank severs all ties with Coca-Cola"

H. On June 25, UNISON, the UK's biggest trade union, with 1.3 million members, passed a resolution at their national convention, resolving to:

"continue affiliation to the Colombian Solidarity Campaign and Justice for Colombia and circulate their educational and campaigning materials to the membership, whilst co-operating with all other relevant non-governmental organisations and initiatives;

"support the call to boycott Coca Cola products"

I. The Human Rights Conference of Canadian Auto Workers Support Campaign
The 2004 Human Rights Conference of Canadian Auto Workers was held in Port Elgin, Canada from June 9 to 11. The CAW is the largest private sector union in Canada, representing 270,000 workers, including 3,000 Coca-Cola workers. Campaign to Stop Killer Coke materials were distributed at the conference and the delegates endorsed a letter/petition drive to protest Coca-Cola's human rights abuses at their Colombian bottling plants.

A growing number of labor unions and labor councils in the public and private sectors in Canada are supporting the Campaign.

In October, Ray Rogers and Dan Kovalik will be on a speaking tour in Canada and are expected to meet with top officials. The speaking tour is being sponsored by a coalition of labor, student and human rights groups.

J. Coca-Cola hires former "labor official" to try to do damage control
The growing labor support is of great concern to Coke. This summer, Coca-Cola hired Jack Otero, former AFL-CIO Executive Board member, to do damage control. His meetings with department heads at the AFL-CIO and his efforts at LCLAA have met with dismal failure. It should be noted that at the LCLAA convention Otero was soundly defeated in a debate, according to onlookers, in which he supported the Central American Free Trade Agreement. More on Otero at a later date.

3. Prevent the theft of the 2004 Presidential election
To help prevent the Bush administration from stealing this year's presidential election, please circulate the following alert by Richard Wagner, president of CWA Local 1183, which represents workers at New York City's Board of Elections:

Please put out the word that, anywhere electronic voting machines (EVM) are being used in this November's election, the machines don't have certified programing, as per the Help America Vote Act. In these districts, paper ballots should be used for Federal Offices, and counted by hand. The EVM manufacturers have private companies certify the machines, so they can sell them, but the certification is suspect because of the manufacturer's influence. I'm not overstating the real possibility that we could have this November's election stolen, and America could lose its democracy.

I write the above from experience of working 33 years at the Board of Elections (BoE) in NYC, and being Local President of the union that represents the staff of the BoE. I have observed the quest for EVM's since it began in 1987. This search for EVM's has been thwarted by the BoE's concern for security for this equipment, and the inability of the manufacturers to provide proof the elections can't be tampered with. People can learn more about this problem at: www.wheresthepaper.org/ There's little time to act and everything we rely on is in real danger.

Richard Wagner
cwa1183@earthlink.net

4. Coca-Cola's Legal Spiderweb to Impede Workers' Affiliation to SINALTRAINAL

September 1, 2004

Coca-Cola's Legal Spiderweb to Impede Workers' Affiliation to SINALTRAINAL

Coca-Cola is continuing in its policies of persecution and aggression. On July 8, 2004, it filed for the revocation of SINALTRAINAL's statutes, deposited at the Social Protection Ministry on January 24, 2002, complying with resolutions 2270 of December 9, 2000 and 930 of May 25, 2001, in full compliance with the legal requirements. Coca-Cola has challenged articles 2 & 7 (of the statutes) to impede both direct and indirect workers employed in the agroalimentary sector from having access to the right to organize.

On August 10, 2004 (in record time), through resolution 2994, in a harsh administrative comment, the Coordinator of the Work, Employment, and Social Security Group Martha Lucia Castano de Gonzalez made a ruling retroactive to resolution 002 of January 12, 2003, which was expedited after the deposit of the statutes of SINALTRAINAL, which authorized the revocation of the statutes, comprising a shameless attack against the workers and the Colombian union movement. This conspiracy between Coca-Cola and the Colombian government violates Article 39 of the Colombian Constitution, Convention 87 of the International Labor Organization, Law 50 of 1990, and Law 584 of 2000 that protect the right to union organization.

On January 4, 2002, Coca-Cola filed for the dissolution of the SINALTRAINAL branch in the city of Santa Marta. The ruling of Judge Ana Elisa Caballero on August 4, 2004 denied this to Coca-Cola, but on August 21, 2003, Coca-Cola filed again in the labor courts, Girardot, Cundinamarca circuit, for the dissolution and liquidation of the SINALTRAINAL branch in that city. This legal action is still in process as file # 0236-03.

Adding to the previous comments, Coca-Cola has a long-standing policy of stigmatizing and hiding unionists. In order to justify the persecution and repression, the penalization of social protest, freedom of opinion, speech, and the right to organize, they have made false accusations against the union through legal cases such as # 585334 for libel and slander, # 159620-585 for slander, # 76988 for conspiracy to commit a crime, slander, and libel, # 7834 for terrorism and rebellion, # 3427 for terrorism, # 3522 for conspiracy to commit a crime, terrorism, sabotage, damages to private property, and grand theft, and the filing for removal of union protections in order to fire union leaders, in order to terrorize the workers and prevent them from organizing. In all of these legal cases, the judges have cleared the name of the Coca-Cola workers affiliated to SINALTRAINAL and ruled in their favor, although some were imprisoned until they could demonstrate their innocence. These accusations have motivated the death threats, assassinations, and assassination attempts by paramilitary groups.

We ask for urgent actions of solidarity, sending letters of protest to the government of Alvaro Uribe Velez, demanding the respect to the right to organize and to union autonomy, and demanding a reversal to the revoking of the statutes of SINALTRAINAL filed by Coca-Cola.

Please send letters to the following addresses:

Juan Carlos Jaramillo
President, COCA COLA FEMSA in Colombia
Carrera 94 #42-94 Bogota
Fax 571-401-1690
cocacola@hotmail.com

Lori George Billingsley
Director, Media Department
Coca-Cola (US)
E-mail: lbillingsley@na.ko.com

Sonya Soutus
Coca-Cola (US)
Fax: 404-598-5051
E-mail: ssoutus@na.ko.com

aLVARO URIBE VeLEZ
Presidente de la Republica de Colombia
Palacio de Narino
Carrera 8 No.7-26
Bogota, COLOMBIA
Fax: 571-284-2186
E-mail:a uribe@presidencia.gov.co

Edgardo Jose Maya Villazon
Procurador General de la Nacion
Carrera 5 N° 15-80 F
Fax: 571-342-9723
E-mail:a nticorrupcion@presidencia.gov.co; reygon@procuraduria.gov.co

Volmar Antonio Perez Ortiz
Defensor del Pueblo
Calle 55 # 10-32 Bogota
Fax: 571-640-0491
E-mail: secretaria_privada@hotmail.com; defensoria@defensoria.org

With a copy to SINALTRAINAL
Carrera 15 # 35-18, Bogota
Fax: 571-245-5325
E-mail: sinaltrainal@sinaltrainal.org

Sincerely,

LUIS JAVIER CORREA SUAREZ
President, SINALTRAINAL