FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
January 26, 2006
Contact: Laura Rivera, (212) 669-270
Comptroller William C. Thompson, Jr., on behalf of the New York City Pension Funds, has filed a shareholder resolution calling for an investigation into alleged violence against union officials and employees at Coca-Cola's Colombian bottling affiliate.
"The New York City Pension Funds are concerned about the allegations of alleged human rights abuses at Coca-Cola's Colombian affiliate," Thompson said. "By failing to address this issue, Coca-Cola has fostered a negative image of itself and is now the subject of a boycott campaign, which poses a financial risk for its investors."
The proposal is sponsored by the New York City Employees' Retirement System (NYCERS), Teachers' Retirement System for the City of New York (TRS), New York City Police Pension Fund, New York City Fire Department Pension Fund and the New York City Board of Education Retirement System (BERS).
"The New York City Pension funds have persuaded companies to end their business dealings in Iran and to examine the security they provide to female employees in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico," said New York City Public Advocate and NYCERS Trustee Betsy Gotbaum. "Now, the Funds are sending a clear message that City workers are concerned about investing their pension funds in companies that collude in anti-union violence. Companies that permit or participate in such human rights abuses put their reputations, and by extension shareholder value, at risk."
"If we are to respect the diversity and values that make New York City unique, we must ensure all companies we deal with protect and value human rights," said Manhattan Borough President and NYCERS Trustee Scott Stringer. "I support the New York City Pension Funds' and the Comptroller's move to call for an investigation into Coca-Cola's Colombian affiliate and believe that we can not ignore these allegations without working towards a thorough and swift examination of the charges".
Since 1995, union officials and unionized employees of Coca-Cola's Colombian affiliate have been subjected to numerous attacks and physical threats from paramilitary forces. There also have been allegations of collusion between paramilitary forces and officials of Coca-Cola's Colombian bottling affiliate. The allegations have resulted in negative publicity, lawsuits, public protests and calls for consumer boycotts of Coca-Cola products.
The resolution filed on behalf of the five funds asks that Coca-Cola sponsor an independent delegation of inquiry to Colombia to examine the charges of collusion in anti-union violence made against managers and officials of Coca-Cola's bottling affiliate, Coca-Cola FEMSA, and that the delegation include representatives from U.S. and Colombian human rights organizations.
The funds have 6,475,918 shares worth more than $267 million in Coca-Cola. Last year, a similar resolution presented by the Pension Funds received 5.4% of shareholder votes, satisfying the required vote threshold for resubmission.
"The alleged anti-union violence against employees at Coca-Cola's Colombian bottling affiliate stands in direct contradiction to rights guaranteed to their American counterparts," Thompson said. "Coca-Cola should ensure that its Colombian affiliate is not abusing workers' human rights. Further, Coca-Cola should fulfill its commitment to its investors and agree to an independent investigation into the allegations."
Besides Thompson, the Pension Funds trustees are:
Fire Department Pension Fund: Mayor Michael Bloomberg; New York City Fire Commissioner Nicholas Scoppetta (Chair); New York City Finance Commissioner Martha E. Stark; Stephen Cassidy, President, James Slevin, Vice President, Robert Straub, Treasurer, and John Kelly, Brooklyn Representative and Chair, Uniformed Firefighters Association of Greater New York; Peter Gorman, President and Captains' Rep., Nicholas J. Visconti, Chiefs' Rep., and Stephen J. Carbone, Lieutenants' Rep., Uniformed Fire Officers Association; and, Joseph Gagliardi, Marine Engineers Association.
Police Pension Fund: Mayor Michael Bloomberg; New York City Finance Commissioner Martha E. Stark; New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly (Chair); Patrick Lynch, Patrolmen's Benevolent Association; Michael Palladino, Detectives Endowment Association; Edwin Mullins, Sergeants Benevolent Association; Anthony Garvey, Lieutenants Benevolent Association; and, John Driscoll, Captains Endowment Association.
NYCERS: New York City Finance Commissioner Martha E. Stark (Chair); New York City Public Advocate Betsy Gotbaum; Borough Presidents Scott Stringer (Manhattan), Helen Marshall (Queens), Marty Markowitz (Brooklyn), Adolfo Carrion (Bronx), and James Molinaro (Staten Island); Lillian Roberts, Executive Director, District Council 37, AFSCME; Roger Toussaint, President Transport Workers Union Local 100; and, Carroll (Carl) Haynes, President, International Brotherhood of Teamsters, Local 237.
TRS: New York City Finance Commissioner Martha E. Stark (Chair); Deputy Chancellor Kathleen Grimm, New York City Department of Education; and, Sandra March, Melvyn Aaronson and Mona Romain, all of the United Federation of Teachers.
BERS: mayoral appointees Schools Chancellor Joel Klein, Alan Aviles, Philip Berry, David Chang, Tino Hernandez, Augusta Souza Kappner, Richard Menschel and Marita Regan; Borough President appointees Jesse Mojica (Bronx), Martine G. Guerrier (Brooklyn), Vivian Farmery (Manhattan), Michael Flowers (Queens), and Joan Correale (Staten Island); and employee members Thomas J. Malanga of the International Union of Operating Engineers, Local 891, and Milagros Rodriguez of District Council 37, Local 372.
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