Tuesday, November 28, 2006

Swarthmore College Removes Coca-Cola Products From Campus

Swarthmore College Removes Coca-Cola Products From Campus
College Calls on Company to Allow Investigation of Violence Allegations

For Immediate Release
November 28, 2006

SWARTHMORE, Pa., Nov. 28 -- Swarthmore College will cease purchasing Coca-Cola products by the end of the year and again calls on the company to permit an independent investigation into allegations of complicity in anti-union violence in Colombia and water use in India. The action, prompted by the urgings of student leaders, follows a series of letters to Coca-Cola by the Swarthmore administration expressing concern about its alleged human rights abuses.

"We plan to dialogue with Coca-Cola in an effort to continue to pressure them to reform their labor and environmental rights practices," says Ruth Schultz '09, a history major from Minneapolis, Minn., and a leader in the campus "Kick Coke" campaign. "In the coming months, we will establish a set of criteria which must be met in order for the College to consider future purchasing from Coca-Cola."

Last semester, Swarthmore removed Coca-Cola products served at the College's snack bar and two coffee bars, including Coke, Diet Coke, and a variety of other soft drinks, juices, and water. This new action concerns the "fountain" Coke products served through company-supplied dispensers at the College's snack bar and Sharples Dining Hall.

Through their "Kick Coke" campaign, Swarthmore student activists have used petitions, a letter-writing campaign, and a Student Council resolution to urge the College administration to remove Coca-Cola products and to pressure the company to act on the abuse allegations.

"Many students see this action as a stand against human rights abuses and as a means of encouraging Coke to make significant and much-needed changes in its practices," says fellow student "Kick Coke" activist Zoe Bridges-Curry '09. "Because the campaign centers around the institution's contract with Coke, and is not limited to the purchasing choices of individuals, the College's action sends a very strong message to the Coca-Cola Company. As a consumer of Coke, Swarthmore can use its influence as a prestigious and socially responsible institution to help effect positive change in the corporation's practices."

"The Coca Cola Corporation has played a major leadership role in the realm of international corporate responsibility and can surely also lead the way by taking even more definitive socially responsible steps," says Swarthmore College Vice President Maurice Eldridge '61. "We hope to continue dialogue with Coke to establish guidelines that would lead to our being able to welcome the products back to campus."

Swarthmore joins several other colleges and universities that have taken action related to Coca-Cola and the alleged abuses. Among those institutions are the University of Michigan and New York University.

The action related to Coca-Cola is one of several recent student initiatives that exemplify Swarthmore's mission to combine academic rigor with social responsibility. In 2004, the College's Committee on Investor Responsibility, which includes student members, successfully petitioned two Fortune 500 companies to broaden their equal opportunity policies to bar discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. That development mirrored the committee's successful action in 2003 with Lockheed Martin, which agreed to add sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policies after the College filed a shareholder resolution - the first in the country solely initiated by a college or university since the anti-apartheid movement in the 1980s.

Also in 2004, students formed what is now the Genocide Intervention Network in an effort to help stop the humanitarian disaster in Darfur. In what was hailed as a victory for free speech, two students that semester won a lawsuit against Diebold, Inc., to halt the company's efforts to shut down any website that hosted or linked to documents detailing problems with the company's electronic voting machines.

In addition, students last year launched an Internet-based radio program on the war in Iraq - War News Radio - which has grown into an acclaimed weekly program syndicated to a growing number of radio stations around the country.

Located near Philadelphia, Swarthmore is a highly selective liberal arts college whose mission combines academic rigor with social responsibility. Swarthmore, with an enrollment of 1,450, is consistently ranked among the top liberal arts colleges in the country.

CONTACT: Alisa Giardinelli, Swarthmore Media Relations, 610-690-5717, agiardi1@swarthmore.edu http://www.swarthmore.edu
For India related campaign inquiries, contact India Resource Center at 415-336-7584, info@IndiaResource.org www.IndiaResource.org

Read more!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Soda Tasting event this Sunday!

Coalition Against Coke Contracts invites everyone to another alternative soda tasting party. Come and sample beverages tastes and flavors that don’t have lingering traces of pesticides or labor abuse.

WHEN:Sunday, November 5 - 8-10 pm

WHERE:Channing Murray Foundation, 1209 W Oregon, Urbana (corner of Matthews &

* Taste from a range of drinks, cast your vote and inform the university
about the drink of your choice.
* Have fun, and learn about the campaign to kick Coca-Cola out of UIUC!
* Swing with musical tunes of Paul Kotheimer, and Oberon and the Possum King.
* Learn more about important referendum on the November 7 ballot.

This event has been organized by Anti-War Anti-Racism Effort (AWARE), a member of Coalition Against Coke Contracts, as a benefit for their referendum efforts for the November 7th elections. Donations are suggested. Read more!

Sunday, October 15, 2006

October 12: Street Theatre and Alternative Beverages

The Coalition Against Coke Contracts and the School for Designing a Society (one of our coalition partners) held an alternative beverage tasting and performance of "a mad coksi tea party" on the UIUC quad this past Thursday. We served over 150 cups of local, fairly produced sodas while enjoying the play and songs. It was such a sucess, we're looking forward to next spring when it's warm enough again for such outside events. Enjoy the pictures!

Read more!

Saturday, October 07, 2006

Swing to the tunes of non-corporate drinks : Alternative Soda Tasting on Quad!(10/12)

Swing to the tunes of non-corporate drinks
Alternative Soda Tasting
Oct. 12, 2006

October 12, 2006 marks the national of day of action in response to a call by Colombian Solidarity Action Network.

Find a taste of life beyond Coca-Cola. Coalition Against Coke Contracts (CACC) and School for Designing a Society (SDAS) invite everyone to attend the Alternative Soda Tasting on the Quad, Thursday, October 12. We’ll be enjoying the tastes and flavors that don’t have lingering traces of pesticides or labor abuse. Cast your vote and inform the university about the drink of your choice! Have fun, and learn about the campaign to kick Coca-Cola out!

WHERE: South Patio of Illini Union
WHEN: Thursday October 12, 2006 at Noon Read more!

Thursday, October 05, 2006

Major Protest Against Coca-Cola in India

New Delhi (October 4, 2006): Over a thousand villagers protested at Coca-Cola's north India headquarters in Gurgaon today, demanding that the company take immediate actions to clean up its act in India or leave India. Read more about the protests here Read more!

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Open Letter to Chancellor Herman: No More Coca-Cola.

Dear Chancellor Richard Herman,

We write to you with serious concerns over the exclusive beverage contract between University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and the Coca-Cola Company. In recent years, a number of universities have played a key role in improving working conditions in factories around the world that assemble/produce the merchandise for universities. University of Illinois, however, continues to do business with Coca-Cola despite the company's outrageous record of human and labor rights violations, and environmental degradation. Coca-Cola's abuses in Colombia, India, Turkey, Indonesia and Guatemala are of direct concern to University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in lieu of its exclusive contract with Coca-Cola, athletic sponsorships, and U of I Foundation ownership of Coca-Cola stock.
Coalition Against Coke Contracts (CACC) is a broad coalition of students, faculty, staff and community members in Urbana-Champaign. We form a significant consumer base, and are very disturbed by the university's inaction over Coca-Cola's malpractices. In the past year, we have attempted to bring our concerns to the attention of Licensing Advisory Committee.

We hold that an association with Coca-Cola is tantamount to complicity in its malpractices, and it would go against the very principles that institutions of higher learning are expected to uphold. We therefore urge the university NOT to renew the contract with Coca-Cola. We urge you to make the decision of non-renewal as soon as

Coalition Against Coke Contracts (CACC) Read more!

Sunday, September 17, 2006

September 12 Rally: Video

Read more!

Wednesday, September 13, 2006

September 12 Rally: Pictures

Read more!

Tuesday, September 12, 2006

Rally on September 12: Coke Out of UIUC!

Coalition Against Coke Contracts (CACC) invites everyone to participate in a rally on the Quad on Tuesday, September 12. Bring a friend, wear your Rad TShirt, and tell the university to kick Coca-Cola out!

Open rally to protest the University's contract with Coke.
WHEN: September 12, 2006. Noon.
WHERE: South Patio (of the Illini Union), The Quad.
Featured Speaker: Amit Srivastava, India Resource Center.

An interview (audio) with Amit Srivastava from Oct 2005.
Read more!

Wednesday, August 30, 2006

Quad Day Photos II

Read more!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Quad day Photos[I]

Read more!

Monday, August 21, 2006

First Day of School Action!: Call Office of the Chancellor

On Wednesday [August 23, 2006], please call the office of Chancellor Richard Herman (217-333-6290) to express your concerns about the current exclusive contracts between University of Illinois and Coca-Cola. Most likely, you will be asked to leave a message. The following short-text might help:

•Introduce yourself as student/staff/faculty/community member.
•" I am calling to express my concerns over university's exclusive beverage contracts with Coca-Cola. Coke is responsible for a number of human rights and labor violations, and environmental degradation. University of Illinois should NOT do business with a corporation that puts profits over human rights. Please DO NOT renew the contract with Coca-Cola"

Please email us at[cokeactiongroup@riseup.net] after you make a call.

Thank you for your support!

Talking Points

1.Why do we want Coke off campus?

Murders and Human Rights Abuses in Colombia: Since 1989, 8 union leaders from Coca-Cola bottling plants have been murdered by paramilitary forces in association with Coke plant managers. Dozens of other workers have been intimidated, kidnapped or tortured. There is clear evidence that managers of several plants have ordered assaults to occur and made regular payments to leaders of the paramilitary groups. Union-busting has greatly benefited Coke and increased their profits. A court case filed in 2001 in Miami against Coca-Cola regarding these issues remains unsettled while investigations by Hiram Monserrate (2004) and Lesley Gil (2004) prove allegations are legitimate.

•Environmental Devastation in India: A pattern of abuse has emerged for Coca-Cola's bottling operations in India. Coca-Cola is guilty of:
1.Polluting ground water and soil around its bottling facilities
2.Distributing its toxic waste as "fertilizer" to farmers. The waste contains dangerous concentrations of cadmium and lead.
3.Selling drinks with high levels of pesticides —sometimes 30 times higher than EU standards.
4. Extracting millions of litres of ground water and causing severe water shortages in various parts of India
In a recent independent investigation the Center for Science and Environment (CSE) found dangerous levels of pesticide in all brands of Coke manufactured in India.

•Union Busting and Beatings in Turkey and Indonesia: Upon attempting to unionize, the workers in Coca-Cola bottling plants in Indonesia and Turkey were fired en masse

2. The contract is up for renewal in 2007, what is the purpose of calling this early?

It is never too soon to decide NOT to renew the contract. The University should make the decision of non-renewal of contract with Coca-Cola as soon as possible and explore other options of beverage contracts.

3. Isn't this a matter of courts/independent investigation?

The recent investigation conducted by Center for Science and Environment (CSE) is independent and on the grounds of their report, the Government of India is considering total ban on Coca-Cola altogether. Seven states in India have already banned Coke. Several campuses in the United States have decided not to do business with Coca-Cola because of the company’s egregious records.

In the past, universities have never waited for a court decision to express their concern about the practices of their business partners or licensees. University codes of conduct grant them the authority to evaluate their licensees' compliance.
Read more!

Saturday, August 19, 2006

Coca-Cola banned at British university

SUSSEX, England, Aug. 19 (UPI) -- Britain's University of Sussex has
banned all Coca-Cola products from its student union to protest the
company's alleged business practices.

Other British campuses are expected to follow suit amid calls for a
nationwide student boycott against the soft drink giant, the
Independent reported Saturday.

U.K. Students Against Coca-Cola has been pressuring the purchasing
consortium that provides food and drink to British campuses to cancel
its four multimillion-dollar contracts with Coke, the newspaper said.

For complete story, click here Read more!

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Jubilation in Plachimada!

From: The Hindu, August 10, 2006

PALAKKAD: There is jubilation in Plachimada and Kanjikode in Palakkad district over the decision of the State Government to ban the production and sale of Coca-Cola and Pepsi Cola after the soft drinks have been ``found injurious to health.''

The two places have been in the news for quite some time in the wake of agitations by local people demanding the closure of the plants of the soft drink majors there.

The Democratic Youth Federation of India (DYFI) took out a march to the Coca-Cola unit at Plachimada on Wednesday hailing the decision.

The Solidarity Youth Movement took out a march through the streets of Palakkad and held a public meeting at the town bus stand. Leaders of the Plachimada Solidarity Committee spoke at the meeting.

Read the complete report Here Read more!

Kerala Throws Out Coca-Cola and Pepsi

Seven Other States Impose Ban, Others Expected to Follow

For Immediate Release
August 9, 2006

Trivandrum, India (August 9, 2006): The state government of Kerala in south India has banned the production and sale of Coca-Cola and Pepsi in the state. The companies will be asked to close their operations entirely.

Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan stated today that the ban was being imposed because of the health hazards posed by Coca-Cola and Pepsi.

"We have arrived at the decision to ask both Coke and Pepsi to stop production and distribution of all their products, based on scientific studies which have proved that they are harmful," said Mr. Chief Minister V. S. Achuthanandan.

Chief Minister Achuthanandan also pointed to the four year campaign by the community of Plachimada in Kerala where the community has protested falling water levels and pollution of the groundwater and soil - directly as a result of the Coca-Cola company's bottling operations in the area.

Read the complete report here: Read more!

Sunday, August 06, 2006

Coca-Cola busted in India

In a comprehensive study covering 12 states, Centre for Science and Environment (CSE) has found dangerous levels of pesticides in all samples of soft drinks. For more information, visit http://www.cseindia.org/misc/cola-indepth/cola2006/cola-index.htm Read more!

Thursday, August 03, 2006

Boycott Coca-Cola!

Read more!

August 3 protests in Mehandiganj, India

Read more!

Dangerous Pesticides in Coca-Cola and Pepsi in India

For Immediate Release
August 3, 2006

San Francisco (August 3, 2006): Coca-Cola and Pepsico carbonated drinks in India contain dangerously high levels of pesticides, according to a new study released yesterday by the Centre for Science and Environment (CSE), a leading public interest research and advocacy group in India.

CSE tested 57 samples of Coca-Cola and PepsiCo carbonated products from 25 different bottling plants across 12 states and found pesticide residues in all samples.

The study found a "cocktail of between three to five different pesticides in all samples" - and on an average, the pesticide residues were 24 times higher than European Union (EU) standards and those proposed by the Bureau of India Standards (BIS), the government body responsible for standardization and quality control.

The study found high levels of:

* Lindane - a confirmed carcinogen - sometimes as high as 140 times those allowed by EU and BIS standards
* Chlorpyrifos - a neurotoxin - sometimes as high as 200 times those allowed by EU and BIS standards
* Heptachlor - which is banned in India and also has not been used in the US since 1988 - was found in 71 per cent of the samples, at levels 4 times higher than the proposed BIS standards.
* Malathion - a pesticide that the US EPA recommends that workers wait at least 12 hours before entering the area of application - were found in 38.6% of the samples tested.

"This is a grave public health scandal," said Sunita Narain, director of the Centre for Science and Environment and winner of the prestigious 2005 Stockholm Water Prize.

The latest study comes three years after CSE had found similar levels of pesticides in Coca-Cola and Pepsico products. One of the highest ranking bodies possible to be set up in India, the Joint Parliamentary Committee (JPC), was convened to look into the issue of dangerous levels of pesticides in soft drinks. In February 2004, the JPC confirmed the unsafe levels of pesticides in soft drinks, and recommended that the government set standards for these residues in the products. Since then, a committee from the Bureau of Indian Standards (BIS) has convened over 20 meetings to deliberate on the standards, and Coca-Cola, Pepsico, consumer and environmental organizations have all been consulted.

In October 2005, the standards were finalized by the committee, and in March 2006, the committee met again to reconfirm the standards. The BIS has adopted the same standards as the European Union - which stipulates a single residue limit of 0.0001 parts per million and multiple residue limit of 0.0005 parts per million. The proposed standards, however, have been delayed from being implemented, ostensibly to do more research.

The Centre for Science and Environment sees it differently. "Our reason is simple: if soft drinks contain a cocktail of pesticides above stipulated standard, they are unsafe. The companies say there are no stipulated standards. The reason is simple: they don't allow standards to be formulated. The standards that needed to be set to regulate their safety have been lost in committees or blocked by powerful interests in the government. The soft drink companies and their industry associations had fought tooth and nail against setting up a final product standard," said CSE in a prepared statement.

The Centre for Science and Environment is demanding that the government implement the standards immediately and make the standards mandatory for the soft drink companies.

Coca-Cola and Pepsico together control about 90% of the carbonated beverage market in India.

The Coca-Cola company is also the target of community campaigns across India accusing the company of creating severe water shortages and pollution around its bottling plants. A number of studies, including those by the government of India, have confirmed the growing water shortages and pollution of groundwater and soil by the Coca-Cola company. One of Coca-Cola's largest bottling plants in India, in Plachimada in Kerala, has remained shut down since March 2004 because of community opposition and government action.

There is also a growing campaign internationally that is applying pressure on the Coca-Cola company to end its abuses in India. More than ten colleges and universities in the US and UK have taken action against the Coca-Cola company. The company was also recently ejected from the US$ 8 billion TIAA-CREF Social Choice Account because of the international campaign. TIAA-CREF is one of the largest financial services companies in the United States, with over US$ 380 billion in assets.

"This is a classic case of double standards by a large multinational company in India. They are selling sub-standard products in India that could never be sold in Europe," said Amit Srivastava if the India Resource Center, an international campaigning organization. "It is Coca-Cola and Pepsico's responsibility to deliver a safe product in India, and they have failed to do so even after being informed that their products were toxic three years ago."

The report by the Centre for Science and Environment can be seen at www.cseindia.org

For more information on the campaign to hold Coca-Cola accountable, visit www.IndiaResource.org Read more!

Tuesday, July 18, 2006

Coca-Cola Suffers Big Blow in Investment Community

KLD Research & Analytics, Inc. of Boston, Mass., a world leader in defining corporate responsibility standards, has removed The Coca-Cola Company from its Broad Market Social Index (BMSI). The BMSI consists of all companies within the Russell 3000 that pass KLD’s screening criteria.

This means that large institutional investors like Teachers Insurance and Annuity Association – College Retirement Equity Fund (TIAA-CREF), the nation’s largest pension fund, will ban Coca-Cola from its CREF Choice Account, the world’s largest socially screened fund for individual investors with $7.9 billion in assets and more than 200,000 investors.

“Such action by KLD is a very serious matter for any company, but especially for one like Coca-Cola that spends billions of dollars promoting itself as socially responsible which it is not,” said Ray Rogers, director of the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke (www.KillerCoke.org). Because of Coke’s widespread labor, human rights and environmental abuses and fraudulent business practices, the company has, like big tobacco, become a pariah to those concerned with socially responsible investing,” added Rogers.

At the end of December, the CREF Social Choice Account held 1,250,500 shares of Coca-Cola common stock valued at more than $50 million.

KLD applies a two-step research process to determine the BMSI. First, companies involved in alcohol, tobacco, firearms, gambling, nuclear power and military contracting are excluded from consideration. KLD also evaluates companies’ records in qualitative areas such as community relations, workforce diversity, employee relations, environment, non-U.S. operations, and product safety and use. Read more!

Friday, July 07, 2006

Change of Location: CACC Meeting (07/10)

Please note that the location for CACC summer informational meeting has been changed. We will meet at Espresso Royale (602 E. Daniel Street,Champaign).

Please consider attending and forward this message widely.

Here are the details:

CACC Summer Informational Meeting
WHEN: Monday, July 10 at 6:30pm
WHERE: Espresso Royale [602 E. Daniel St., Champaign]
Read more!

Monday, July 03, 2006

Tuesday, June 27, 2006

Don't miss the Summer Informational Meeting!

Dear supporters,

Coalition Against Coke Contracts (CACC) would like to thank
you for supporting the local campaign against Coca-Cola at
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign. We had an exciting
spring semester, with more than 20 campus and community groups
joining the coalition! CACC continues to grow everyday with
increasing support from faculty, staff, students and community.


Interested in knowing what CACC is doing over summer?

Interested in helping out with the local campaign against Coke
in Fall?

Want to have more details about why UIUC should cut its
exclusive contract with Coke?


Attend the summer informational meeting on July 10th at 6:30
pm at Bar Giuliani (Previously known as Green Street Cafe [608
E. Green St. Champaign]) Read more!

Saturday, May 27, 2006

Are Coke’s Spinning Wheels Coming Off?

Coca Cola spends about 70% of its profits on media, image building and publicity. And yet, at the share holders’ meeting in Delaware, under pressure from a large number of global communities for its unethical practices, its wheels seemed to be coming off.

Coke was expecting flak for its role in Plachimada where reports by BBC and state environmental board has shown high amounts of heavy metals in effluents dumped in fields of local farmers and in the groundwater. It showed two clips – one saying the Coke’s rainwater harvesting programs have caused lush green agricultural conditions in the area and that they have provided employment in an area of high unemployment.

In fact, Coke has aggressively presented itself as the savior of water. And yet, it had no answer when presented with facts. Kiran, from AID pointed out that Coke’s claim to conserve water is completely unjustified. A single bottling plant in Mehdiganj – another site of protests in India – withdraws over 180 million liters of water annually – as per numbers presented by Coke. On the other hand, its rain water harvesting programs recharge only 10 million liters – again as per Coke numbers. So what kind of conservation is this?

Coke has had no comments. For one, it was not prepared for Mehdiganj. Second, an employee of Coke – apparently a scientist – tried to wiggle out with a fatuous comment that water cannot be created nor destroyed and that there was no water shortage in the area. This at a time when the local government in Mehdiganj and other blocks in the neighborhood has already announced water levels to be critical and has banned withdrawal of water from larger bore wells. And yet, Coke – with the largest borewells in the area – continues to withdraw millions.

It has had no comment to charges of corruption and of illegal occupation of land – charges upheld by local Indian courts. The best it would do is say that Coke products are a choice to consumers. That people around these plants are very happy with Coke. That Coke also gives scholarships to students to student in Atlanta. Non Sequitur anyone?

About a dozen people spoke about the unethical practices of Coke with respect to water, to wages, to labor rights – and for most part, the spin machine chose to ignore it or respond with inane statements.

And yet, the pressure on Coke seems to be growing. Coke sent an 8 member team to UCLA to respond to student groups demanding the UCLA’s contract with Coke be cancelled in light of its unethical practices. During the discussion, a number of questions including copies of court orders regarding Coke’s corrupt practices in India, its illegal occupation of land as well as high heavy metals in its effluents were presented. However, the Coke team seemed not ready for these and pleaded to come back once more. With 8 more people perhaps?

In India, the indefinite strike continues in Mehdiganj. More filmmakers from Europe – this time from Sweden – visited to document the continued ethical malfunctioning of Coke. The campaign is now planning to organize a one-day program including Rajender Singh – another Magsasay winner and water conservationist. Besides Rajender Singh, other local civic society leaders have kept their visits in solidarity with the campaign. But perhaps, the biggest strength of the campaign has been the local farmers, who continue to keep on the strike despite their own crops being affected by bad weather.

At the same time, Plachimada marked its 4th anniversary of the struggle with a gathering. In the weeks leading to the anniversary, the local union of bank employees presented a check to the movement and promised their solidarity with the people of Plachimada in their demand for justice from Coke’s activities.

With the state legislative elections approaching, events marking the 4th anniversary were smaller. Prof. M. N. Vijayan, a well known social activist and philosopher, inaugurated the functions in front of the gate to Hindustan CocaCola Bottling Company.

A press release from the Plachimada resistance pointed out that
The struggle has achieved much with Coca Cola unable to function since March 2004. The bottling plant has been unable to open because the local village council is refusing to reissue a license to operate. The village council has maintained that the plant needs to shut down because it has destroyed the water system in the area as well as polluted the area. Coca cola is guilty of destroying the lives and livelihoods of the tribal community of the Plachimada. Now, the matter is under judicial review of Supreme Court of India.

But, in a significant move, the state government of Kerala has joined the community in its struggle by appealing Coca Cola’s right to extract water to the Supreme Court of India in September 2005. The Kerala State Pollution Control Board has also issued a stop order notice to the plant because of pollution. All these are mile stones in our struggle. But the goal has not been yet achieved. It will be, when compensation for the victims who are affected is given, when the Coca Cola quits and ends its legal battle with us…

And yet, Coca Cola continues its history of spinning its public relations wheels – hoping somehow that its gigantic media presence will keeps its profits flowing in. However, with more and more communities joining in presenting their concerns against the operations of Coke – universities in the USA, in Europe, communities in Germany, increasing number of communities in India, Colombia – perhaps Coca Cola needs to understand that it might have to change its unethical practices where it continues to earn profits by dumping its dumping its externalities on local communities.
(from: http://www.thesouthasian.org/archives/000627.html)

Read more!

Wednesday, April 26, 2006

Talk by Daniel Kovalik: COKE, COLOMBIA, AND HUMAN RIGHTS (Updated)

Coalition Against Coke Contracts (CACC) presents

A public talk by Daniel Kovalik

WHEN: THURSDAY, April 27th at 7:00 pm
WHERE: 180 Bevier Hall, 905 S. Goodwin Avenue, Urbana

(Northwest corner of Goodwin and Gregory)

Free and open to the public

About Daniel Kovalik:
Daniel Kovalik graduated from the Columbia University School of Law in 1993 and joined the United Steelworkers of America as Assistant General Counsel. During his time there, he has been the co-chief counsel in Alien Tort Claims Act cases against Coca-Cola and Drummond, and has been the Associate Editor of "Developing Labor Law." He is also the recipient of the David W. Mills Mentoring Fellowship in 2002 and the Project Censored Award for 3rd Most Significant Censored Story of 2001.

A few of his publications are available online.

Update: Here is a link to streaming audio of his talk. Read more!

April 27th Meeting Cancelled

The meeting for Thursday, April 27th has been cancelled.
There will be no meetings this semester. If you would like to get involved in the campaign, please contact us at cokeactiongroup@riseup.net
In solidarity,

Read more!

Tuesday, April 25, 2006

Recent Articles

The Case Against Coke

By Michael Blanding

Water as Commodity and Weapon:
The Corporate Hijack of India's Water

By P. Sainath

Read more!

Thursday, March 23, 2006

Next CACC meeting after spring break!

The meeting on March 23rd is cancelled due to Spring Break.
The next meeting will be held at 7:30 PM on Thursday, March 30th, 2006
Venue: Room 140-A, Education Building
Hope to see you there!
CACC Read more!

Monday, March 06, 2006

CACC Meeting this week!

There is a Coalition Against Coke Contracts meeting this week!

Date: Thursday (March 9th)
Time: 7:30 pm
Venue: 140-A Education Building.

Come join in the struggle to get Coke off our campus! Read more!

Wednesday, February 15, 2006

Next CACC Meeting

The next Coalition Against Coke Contracts meeting will be help on Thursday, Feb 23rd, 2006.
Venue: Room 140 - A, Education Building Read more!

Killer Coke covered in Daily Illini

Column: Killer Coke
By: Eric Naing
Read the article here..
Read more!

Tuesday, January 31, 2006

"Killer Coke" Or Innocent Abroad?

It's early monday morning, but Ray Rogers has the full attention of some 70 students in a Rutgers University classroom. For nearly half an hour, the 61-year-old labor activist rails against Coca-Cola Co. (KO ), taking the beverage giant to task for allegedly turning a blind eye as eight employees of Coke bottlers in Colombia were killed and scores more were threatened or jailed on trumped-up terrorism charges over the past decade.

"The reality is that the world of Coca-Cola is a world of lies, deceptions, corruption, gross human rights and environmental abuses!" thunders Rogers, a legendary union activist who cut his teeth organizing a highly publicized campaign against textile maker J.P. Stevens & Co. in the 1970s. He slams his hand on a desk. "But this is where it's going to stop! We're going to put an end to this once and for all! How many of you will stand up against Coke?" One by one, roughly half the students lift their hands. In response to Rogers' charges, a Coke spokeswoman says the activist "has no facts to support his claims."Despite the vast generation gap and Coke's rebuttals, Rogers' diatribes are starting to resonate on campuses from New Haven to Ann Arbor, where his "Killer Coke" campaign has become the latest cause célèbre among student activists -- "the new Nike," as one puts it. At dozens of schools, small but feisty groups of students have demonstrated against the company -- like the ones who staged a "die-in" during a 2004 Yale University speech by then-CEO Douglas N. Daft. Already, about 20 colleges in the U.S. and abroad have halted sales of Coke on campus, in part over the Colombia controversy.In December, Rogers bagged his two biggest victories to date when New York University and the University of Michigan banished Coke. For two years, NYU student activists had demanded an independent investigation of worker conditions in Colombia. "The students felt it has been two years, and nothing's been done," says Arthur Tannenbaum, a faculty spokesman at NYU. In response, a Coke spokesperson says the company would accept an outside review, but only if the findings aren't admissible in a lawsuit filed in Miami by the International Labor Rights Fund on behalf of the slain Colombian workers -- a condition the ILRF has not accepted.PICKING UP STEAM Coke officials maintain that the company has been unfairly tarred by union activists who have distorted the facts about Colombia. Perpetuating "urban myth is more exciting [for activists] than knowing what the facts are," says Edward E. Potter, a longtime corporate labor lawyer who joined Coke as global labor relations director last March. Coke officials say only one of the eight workers was killed on the premises of the Coke bottling plant owned by Bebidas y Alimentos de Urabá. Also, they say, the other deaths -- which all occurred off-premises -- were byproducts of Colombia's four-decade-long civil war among leftist guerrillas, government forces, and paramilitaries, which has resulted in at least 35,000 deaths, including 2,500 trade unionists since the mid-1980s alone.What's more, an important global coalition of labor unions has refused to support Rogers' anti-Coke crusade, which seeks reparations for the families of victims. "We have no evidence of complicity by Coke in the killing of workers," says Ron Oswald, general secretary of the International Union of Foodworkers in Geneva, whose members include tens of thousands of Coke workers worldwide. Some government and union leaders believe that the militant union leading the crusade, SINALTRAINAL, a Colombian union of food-industry workers known for its socialist views, has zeroed in on Coke as a way to get the broader issue of union violence heard around the world. "Out of one killing they built up a campaign," says Colombian Vice-President Francisco Santos Calderón. "In the end they're hurting Colombia" by making it seem like a dangerous place to do business.Still, Rogers seems to be picking up steam. The activist says he has been contacted by students at more than 100 other colleges looking to initiate similar protests, including Washington's Georgetown University and Atlanta's Emory University, whose endowment includes large holdings of Coca-Cola stock. Rogers also believes he can score a win in Britain in the coming months when the National Union of Students, a purchasing co-op for more than 200 student unions there, debates whether to renew Coke's beverage contract.The college deals -- collectively worth perhaps a few million dollars -- represent a negligible loss of business for the $23 billion soft-drink titan, which now generates 85% of its operating income outside the U.S. But the campaign is heating up at an awkward moment for Coca-Cola, which was recently eclipsed by PepsiCo (PEP ) in market value. Plus, Coke is pinning a revival on a new marketing plan set to launch in the spring around the theme "Welcome to the Coke Side of Life." "I know the impact we're having on Coke, and I know it's getting worse," says Rogers.Beyond bad PR, the Colombia controversy illustrates the challenges facing all multinationals that do business in unstable places. As Nike Inc. (NKE ) learned in its recent sweatshop labor flap, companies are increasingly being held accountable for everything that occurs all the way through the supply chain, even when it involves independent contractors, as is the case with Coke and its Colombian bottlers. In the end, some crisis-management experts believe Coke may be able to defuse the Colombia situation only by consenting, as Nike did, to an outside review, and by taking public steps to better ensure the safety of bottling company workers in countries such as Colombia. "You just can't...say: 'They're the bottlers, we just sell the syrup,"' says Edward F. Ahnert, a former president of ExxonMobil Foundation who teaches corporate social responsibility at Southern Methodist University's business school.BREAKING THE UNION What has transpired in Colombia over the past decade is a matter of debate. According to union leaders from SINALTRAINAL, on whose behalf the 2001 Miami lawsuit was filed, several years of violence and killings of Coke workers intensified on Dec. 5, 1996, when a right-wing paramilitary squad showed up at the gate of the Coke bottling plant owned by Bebidas y Alimentos in Carepa, a small town in northwestern Colombia's banana-growing region. The paramilitaries shot and killed Isidro Segundo Gil, the gatekeeper and a member of the union's executive board. An hour later they kidnapped another union leader at his home and torched the union's offices.The following day the paramilitaries returned to the plant, called workers together, and gave them until 4 p.m. to sign a statement resigning from the union on stationery the unionists claim bore the bottler's letterhead -- or else. Many union members resigned on the spot; 27 even quit their jobs and fled to other cities, fearing they would be killed if they stayed. Luis Hernán Manco, who was president of the union at the time, was summoned by the plant manager to a local tavern, where several paramilitaries warned him and other union leaders to leave town. "They said: 'If you want to live beyond today, get out of this area.' I knew they were serious," recalls Manco, now 59, who has been in hiding for nine years. For two more months, union leaders claim, the paramilitaries camped outside the front gate of the Carepa plant.The union alleges that Coke and its local bottler were complicit in these acts. (Both companies deny the charge.) Among the claims made in the lawsuit is an alleged 1996 public statement by Ariosto Milan Mosquera, the plant manager at Carepa, that "he had given an order to the paramilitaries to carry out the task of destroying the union." (The plant's owner, Richard Kirby of Key Biscayne, Fla., denies his managers gave any such orders.) Over the intervening nine years, in addition to the eight who died, 48 others have been forced into hiding, and 65 have received death threats, SINALTRAINAL leaders say. In Bucaramanga, a midsize city in northeastern Colombia, five union members who work at the Coke plant there were jailed for six months in 1995 on terrorism charges that were later dropped for lack of evidence. They were accused of planting an explosive device in the plant, but three of them who spoke to BusinessWeek said they doubt such a device ever existed.Union leaders insist Coke could have halted the violence by immediately -- and publicly -- repudiating the paramilitaries. "If the company had condemned the first death, there probably wouldn't have been any more," says Edgar Paez, director of international relations for SINALTRAINAL. A Coke spokesman disputes that. "Our bottlers have been quite open in condemning the violence," he says, pointing to local newspaper ads they published that denounced the violence. Paez also claims the Coca-Cola bottler financially benefited from the paramilitaries' actions, since they broke the union and allowed the bottler to replace many of its full-time employees with much cheaper part-time and temporary workers. Plant owner Kirby denies that charge and says he suffered, too: His wife's sister was kidnapped by the paramilitaries, who also burned four of his trucks and tried to coerce Kirby into selling his plant to them on the cheap, which he declined to do. "Nobody tells the paramilitaries what to do. They tell you," he says.There's no clear path for Coke to mitigate the controversy. Nike, after its initial reluctance to engage its critics, was able to resolve the allegations that it used sweatshop labor; the sneaker giant imposed tougher workplace standards on its suppliers and invited outside groups to help monitor their compliance. In April, Coke released the results of a study by Cal Safety Compliance Corp., a Los Angeles consultant that specializes in workplace audits, which found no current instances of anti-union violence or intimidation at Coke bottling plants in Colombia. But union activists and students were unmoved, since Coke had paid for the study, and demanded that the company agree to an independent investigation of its Colombian operations. At first, Coke said yes, but the plan hit an impasse over the findings' admissibility in the ongoing lawsuit, from which Coke was dropped as a defendant by the judge in 2003. (The bottlers remain defendants.)Activist Rogers is demanding that Coke pay reparations to the families of the slain and displaced Colombian workers, noting that the company came up with $192.5 million to settle a racial-discrimination class action in the U.S. in 2000. In Bogotá, SINALTRAINAL's Paez says each survivor should get regular payments equal to the monthly salary received by Coke's CEO. "What is a life worth?" he asks. A Coke spokeswoman responds: "We were not complicit in what happened, so it wouldn't make sense for us to pay reparations." But for Coke, resolving the legal questions and diffusing the Colombia controversy may be two different things.
[http://www.businessweek.com/magazine/content/06_04/b3968074.htm ] Read more!

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

CACC invites you to the first meeting in 2006!

Dear CACC Supporters,

Happy New Year and welcome back to campus! As most of you have heard by now 2006 started with a victory for the anti-coke movement!

On December 29th, the University of Michigan noted in a letter to the Coca-Cola Company that Coke had failed to agree to a protocol for investigation. Beginning January 1st, 2006 the University of Michigan suspended purchasing of Coca-Cola products.

The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has a five-year exclusive contract with Coca-Cola that is up for renewal in 2007. CACC commends the action that members of the Licensing Committee and Chancellor Richard Herman have taken regarding the contract with Coca Cola. On November 30 Chancellor Richard Herman wrote to Coca-Cola's director of global labor relations, expressing "serious concern about allegations concerning bottling plants in Colombia and India."

The next semester is going to be a busy and exciting time for CACC as we gear up to demand that the University of Illinois cut the existing exclusive contract with Coca-Cola and make sure that it does not enter any future contracts with a company that has committed numerous human rights, environmental and labor violations.

CACC invites you to our first public meeting of 2006. Come join us in the struggle to get Coke out of our campus!

The meeting is at 7:30 PM on Thursday, January 26th, 2006
Venue: Education Building, Room 140-A.
Everyone is welcome! Read more!

Tuesday, January 17, 2006

Convention On Plachimada Struggle:January 20, 2006

The State has appealed against the High Court ruling that permitted Coca Cola to extract up to 5 lakh liters per day and that perumatty Panchayat should issue license. Coca Cola suceeded in getting the Kerala government to attempt tp broker a fresh deal between the Coca Cola, the State and the Panchayat excluding the struggle/Solidarity Committee, to identify options that would benefit Coca cola such as declaration of Plachimada as an industrial area to overcome the restrictions placed on ground water, shifting the plant to Kanjicode, an industrial area, with liberal sops from the state etc. Perumatty Panchayat has issued license with 13 conditions to comply with the High Court ruling. Coca Cola has accepted the license under protest. No criminal charges has yet been filed against Coca Cola for the crime against the people despite the piling up of evidences. The factory at Plachimada remain closed awaiting favourable judgement in the cases filed and which are in the Supreme Court.

The struggle of the people of Plachimada has finally recieved legitimacy from general public across the state, from most of the political parties in the state, from the State through its appeal against the high court judgement, from small and large protest groups and social and political movements from the state and across the country. It has also received the support of various student unions besides others, in the US and Europe, through boycotts causing Coca Cola to lose contracts in university campuses. Yet the ground water of Plachimada has not changed. No action has been taken against Coca Cola. No action has been taken to change the laws that has proved to be ineffective to handle such major crimes against the people.

The issues of who has the primary rights over water and the right of governance of water are now in the Supreme Court for it to de! cide upon when these are subject matters to be finalised in the political arena through democratic process and is not for the courts to determine. It is in these circumstances that the Anti Coca Cola Struggle Committee and the Plachimada Solidarity Committee is giving a call for this Convention on 20 January 2006.

The Plachimada struggle has been able to get the state, political system and the judiciary to respond to the problem. The challenge before us is that the state, the political system and the judiciary have clearly failed to address the survival question of Plachimada. Clearly, it indicates that it is now for the people to reclaim and assert their legitimate rights and establish their power to govern themselves for equity and justice. It is this challenge that need to be addressed through a new phase of struggle. The Convention is expected to raise and clarify these to contribute to the evolution of strategies to address these issues politically and democratically.&nbs! p;