In response to Barney Keller's "Don't Buy Into the Killer Coke Craze" (Chicago Maroon 5/18/07), perhaps Mr. Keller should take his own advice and do "due diligence."
Ray Rogers began his career in the 1960s as a VISTA volunteer earning $32 a week working with the poor in the Appalachian Mountains and worked with Miners for Democracy to reform the United Mineworkers union in the early-70s helping to oust corrupt union leaders. Ray later helped clothing workers at Farah, textile workers at J.P. Stevens and farm workers in FLOC win major struggles. In 1981, he founded Corporate Campaign, Inc., which has championed labor and public interest causes for more than 25 years. Mr. Rogers averages less income than Mr. Keller would accept as a starting salary. Rogers has been living in East Harlem, New York, for many years.
The University of Chicago is lucky to have a person of Ray Rogers' background, stature and commitment to speak about the worldwide Campaign to Stop Killer Coke! Mr. Rogers is not an unknown. Since the 1970's, he and the work of his organization have received widespread coverage in the national and international media. For example, describing Rogers in the 80's, the Boston Herald reported that Rogers is "one of the most successful union organizers since the CIO sit down strikes of the 1930's" and last year, Business Week described him as a "legendary union activist."
Regarding the Massachusetts KillerCoke matter, The Massachusetts Office of Campaign and Political Finance issued a public letter, stating, "...based on our review we have determined that there is no reason to believe that you [Ray Rogers] or Corporate Campaign, Inc. violated the campaign finance law."
Mr. Rogers was expecting to debate Coke head-to-head, but as usual, the company refused to participate in a real debate. Mr. Keller should have the decency to call Mr. Rogers or hear him speak on Tuesday so that he might get his facts straight.
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