Monday, August 06, 2007

Coca-Cola Kicked out of University of Illinois!

In another landmark victory for student campaigns against Coca-Cola, the company has been kicked out of the University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign. U of I is the third university this summer -- following Smith College in the U.S. and the Banaras Hindu University in India -- to have terminated its beverage contract with Coca-Cola. Coalition Against Coke Contracts (CACC), the group that led the campaign at UIUC, dedicates this victory to the indomitable fighting spirit of communities ravaged by Coke -- from Colombia to India.

Coca-Cola has been the exclusive beverage provider at the University of Illinois since 1997. According to the terms of the contract, only Coke products were sold on campus. Such monopolistic arrangements have been emblematic of the growing corporatization of education. The contract between University of Illinois and Coca-Cola received much criticism from students, faculty, staff and the local community for, among other reasons, the company's labor & human rights abuse and environmental degradation in India, Colombia, Indonesia and Turkey.

In Colombia, for instance, Coca-Cola's union busting efforts in collaboration with the paramilitaries have resulted in the death of eight union leaders since 1989. Similarly, workers in Coke bottling plants in Turkey and Indonesia have been routinely subjected to violence and intimidation upon attempting to unionize. In India, the company is involved in massive extraction and pollution of ground water. The pollution control board of Kerala, India, has found out that Coca-Cola is responsible for dumping toxic waste into the fields and water around its plants. Further, independent investigations of Coca-Cola products in India have been found to include high levels of pesticides.

For the past two years, CACC, a student & community group in Champaign Urbana has forcefully demanded that the University end its business relationship with Coca-Cola in light of the company's egregious records. It has further demanded a public statement from the administration regarding, what has been stated by Chancellor Hermand as "Coca-Cola's recalcitrance" on the afore-mentioned issues. More than 25 local groups joined the coalition, holding numerous dialogs with the administration and organizing public actions. Even as the current contract with Coca-Cola expired on June 30, CACC organized "the last day of contract" action that involved soda-tasting of a range of locally produced beverages.

For the new beverage contract, the University of Illinois has decided to comply with the State's decision to grant pouring rights to Pepsi. CACC has always been vocal about supporting local businesses and vendors over big corporations. The numerous soda-tasting events organized by CACC over the the past year received an overwhelming response. CACC welcomes the University's decision not to do business with Coca-Cola and hopes that the retail stores outside the contract with Pepsi will take into account the choice of campus community and provide locally manufactured beverages.

Earlier this year, the Urbana Champaign campus made a historic decision to put an end to its racist mascot, thanks to a broad-based campus-wide movement. Non-renewal of the contract with Coca-Cola is another step toward creating a progressive campus. CACC hopes that the University administration will take affirmative steps toward making sure that it does not enter into business relationships with corporations that have no respect for human and labor rights. Finally, the inclusion of progressive student groups in long-term decision making would be a positive way of achieving this.
Read more!

Saturday, June 30, 2007

UIUC Coke Contract Expires, University Yet To Release Plan

Even as the current contract expires, University of Illinois continues to evade real questions.

The 10-year-long exclusive contract between University of Illinois and Coca-Cola formally ended on June 30, 2007. Despite a strong opposition to the contract from students, faculty, staff and the community, and Coca-Cola's refusal to take responsibility for violating human, labor and environmental rights, the U. of I administration chooses to remain silent.

For the past 2 years the Coalition Against Coke Contracts (CACC) has organized a campaign against the exclusive contract with Coca-Cola. More than 25 groups in Urbana Champaign including academic departments, student and community organizations have endorsed the campaign.

CACC organized 'the last day of contract' action on June 29, 2007 that was well attended. The attendees sampled locally produced beverages and rated those as they enjoyed Paul Kotheimer's innovative performance on various ways to remove Coke machines. The coalition delivered a collective letter to the Chancellor. Urging the university to break its silence, the letter says, "Until we can successfully rid Coca-Cola and its subsidiary products from this campus, the atmosphere which condones the abuses of multinational corporations will fester."

In his response to the action, the chair of Licensing Advisory committee Bill Adams said that the administration has no clear information on what kinds of beverages will be available on the campus from July 1st.

Finally, the following are CACC demands:

1. Do not get into a contract with Coca-Cola, whether exclusive or otherwise.

2. Issue a public statement on the beverage contract for next year.

3. Issue a public statement highlighting Coca Cola's reticence to address serious concerns regarding its business practices.

4. Issue a public statement on the University's commitment to ethics in the business dealings.And here is the rest of it. Read more!

Wednesday, June 27, 2007

6/29: Last Day of the Contract Action

Even as the Exclusive contract between University of Illinois and Coca-Cola draws to an end this week, the administration fails to disclose the plans after the contract.

Please join us on Friday, June 29th to tell the administration that Coca-Cola must go!

When: Friday, June 29th at Noon
Where: South patio, quad

We will meet on the quad and then march over to Swanlund. Please wear black as a gesture of solidarity to the worldwide campaigns for fair labor and environmental justice.

If you cannot make it to the action, please email/call the office of the Chancellor [] [217-3336290] to voice your opposition to the contract with Coca-Cola.

Coke Outta UIUC! Read more!

La Casa Cultural Latina at UIUC Removes Coke Machine

La Casa Cultural Latina at the University of Illinois has removed the Coca-Cola vending machine as a response to student concerns about Coca-Cola's history of labor abuses in Colombia and environmental degradation in India. The Coalition Against Coke Contracts supports La Casa's decision and urges other University departments, cultural houses, and programs to request the removal of Coca-Cola vending machines on their premises. Read more!

Monday, June 25, 2007

UK Coca-Cola Workers Take Strike Vote

Yorkshire Evening Post
By Stuart Robinson

"A ROW over pay will see hundreds of workers at a soft drinks' distribution centre in Wakefield balloted on strike action. Hundreds of staff at the Coca-Cola distribution centre on the 41 Industrial Estate are to be balloted.

Union leaders have today warned that if their members at the site opt to take industrial action, it could have a "devastating effect" on supplies of Coca-Cola and other products to shops, supermarkets, pubs and hotels across the UK."

Click on the title to read more. Read more!

Sunday, June 17, 2007

Coca-Cola Continues Environmental Abuses in India

New Delhi, India (June 4, 2007): In a shocking finding, another Coca-Cola bottling plant in India has been found to be operating in complete violation of environmental laws and regulations in India.

A fact-finding team led by the India Resource Center to a Coca-Cola bottling plant in Sinhachawar in the state of Uttar Pradesh issued a report today detailing the violations.

Specifically, the team found that:

* The plant is indiscriminately dumping its sludge, considered to be industrial hazardous waste, across the plant premises, in complete violation of the laws regarding handling and disposal of industrial hazardous waste in India.
* The Effluent Treatment Plant was non-operational, and the bottling plant was discharging its wastewater into surrounding agricultural fields and a canal that feeds into the river Ganges.
* The plant did not disclose the amount of hazardous waste being used and generated, as required by the Supreme Court of India for all industrial units in India that deal with hazardous waste.

The full report with images can be found at Coke Balia Facts (Hindi version)

Such careless disposal of the sludge and the wastewater results in the pollution of the agricultural lands, local water supplies as well as the food chain. At stake are the very lives and livelihoods of thousands of people who live around the bottling plant premises, who are primarily farmers.

The findings are particularly disturbing because the Coca-Cola company has had ample time to align its operations in India with environmental rules and regulations, and it has been rapped for similar wrongdoings before.

In 2003, the Central Pollution Control Board (CPCB) of India assessed the sludge at eight Coca-Cola bottling plants, and found them all to contain excessive levels of lead, cadmium or chromium. As a result, the CPCB ordered the Coca-Cola company in India to treat its waste as industrial hazardous waste, and deal with it accordingly.

The British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) also tested the sludge around the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Plachimada in Kerala in 2003, and found it to be toxic. The Coca-Cola company was distributing the toxic sludge to farmers as ‘fertilizer’, and was ordered by government authorities to stop the practice after the toxicity of the sludge was confirmed. The BBC report found that the toxins from the sludge had polluted the groundwater.

The bottling plant in Sinhachawar is a Coca-Cola franchisee owned unit operated by the Brindavan Bottlers Limited, which is owned by India’s largest bottler of Coca-Cola, the Ladhani Group of Companies.

“Our lives have been made much more difficult after the Coca-Cola bottling plant began its operations here,” said Mr. Baliram of the locally based Coca-Cola Bhagao, Krishi Bachao Sangharsh Samiti (Get Rid of Coke, Save Farming Struggle Committee). “We are demanding that the Coca-Cola plant be shut down immediately and be investigated for any wrongdoing.”

The fact finding team, which included twenty residents from the village of Sinhachawar, also heard complaints of illegal land acquisition by the bottling plant as well as the drying up of water wells and hand water pumps since the bottling plant began operations.

“The Coca-Cola company is announcing to the world that it is an environmentally responsible company, and it has partnered with UN agencies and NGO’s to paint a pretty green picture of itself. But all that is corporate social responsibility gone wrong because the reality on the ground is different. It is littered with toxic waste and a complete disregard and destruction of the way of life as many people in rural India know it,” said Amit Srivastava of the India Resource Center.

“Coca-Cola’s track record in India is indicative of an arrogant company that operates with impunity,” said Srivastava.

The Coca-Cola company’s operations in India have been challenged by various communities across India who are experiencing severe water shortages as well as polluted water and land as a result of the company’s practices. The Coca-Cola bottling plant in Plachimada, one of the company’s largest in India, has been shut down since March 2004.

The local campaigns to challenge Coca-Cola in India have found tremendous support internationally, and particularly among college and university students in the US, UK and Canada. Just last week, the prestigious Smith College in the US announced that it will no longer do business with the Coca-Cola company because of concerns in India, ending a five decade relationship with the Coca-Cola company. Over twenty colleges and universities have taken similar actions.

The Central Pollution Control Board has been asked to investigate the pollution at the Sinhachawar bottling plant immediately, and other agencies dealing with water and land have also been asked to intervene in the matter of the offending Coca-Cola bottling plant in Sinhachawar.

The fact finding team has recommended that the Coca-Cola bottling plant in Sinhachawar be shut down immediately to prevent any further damage to the community and the environment.

For more information, visit India Resource Center
Read more!

Smith College Drops Coca Cola

Daily Hampshire Gazette, “Convinced of abuses, Smith College severs ties with Coca-Cola,” By Kristin Palpini and Andrew Horton, June 1, 2007

“After a two-year study into Coca-Cola's alleged environmental and labor rights violations, Smith joins 40 colleges and universities nationwide that have barred Coca-Cola from campus. The list of colleges banning Coke includes Hampshire College (which booted Coke in 2006), Simons Rock College in Great Barrington, New York University and Rutgers University. In the letter, Christ cites poor business practices in Colombia and India as reasons why the college has decided not to renew Coca-Cola's contract.

“The Soft Drink Advisory Committee 'looked at the prevailing concerns over the corporation, their environmental practices in India and their labor practices in Colombia, and we decided that what's being said about Coke is right and true,' said Kristen A. Cole, media relations director at Smith.” Read more!

Coke Wins Corporate Greenwashing Award

The Corporate Greenwashing Award is presented to companies that have pushed profits higher while investing millions of dollars into covering up environmentally damaging practices with corporate social responsibility projects. Read More:

World Wildlife Foundation Greenwashes Coke

Coke Claims to be a good corporate citizen Read more!

Coke Futher Undermines Colombia Investigation

June 6th, The Sydney Morning Herald reported: "Employers led by a Coca-Cola executive [Ed Potter] stopped the International Labour Organisation examining violations of workplace rights in Colombia..." Click on the title of this post to read more. Read more!

Monday, May 07, 2007

Need a Course for the Fall? Try the Chancellor's Course in Situational Ethics....

[click on image for larger size]
Read more!

Thursday, April 19, 2007

CACC Action at Swanlund, 4.18.2007

the message: uiuc admin, get rid of coca cola!

signs commemorating the workers from Colombia killed by Coca Cola.

andrew, dave, and wendy, educating the passerby.

susan, holding it down.

beth, stopping traffic in the coca cola dress.

trey, the man with the big sign.

the wind, not so considerate of our efforts to have a vigil.

the signs abounded. Read more!