Viewpoint: Coke on Trial
The campaign to purge this campus of unethical corporations rolls
on. Students are closer than ever to pushing our University to cut
our contract with Coca-Cola.
Because recent progress of the campaign has been quiet, many people
have come up to members of the Coke Coalition asking if the $1.3 million
contract the University has with Coca-Cola has been cut. The answer
is a resounding “NO! — not yet.”
On April 25, the University will hold a hearing to determine if Coca-Cola
is too ethically corrupt to do business with. This will be the first
significant test of the strength of this university’s Code of Conduct.
This is our opportunity to show the world that to do business with
this prestigious, moral institution, you must follow minimum humane
The accusations against Coke are clear: it has been accused of participating
in particularly egregious human rights violations in Colombia; it’s
been accused of being complicit in the murder of nine union leaders
and workers as well as over 170 reported cases of kidnapping, violence
against union-members’ families, death-threats and torture, which
were committed by paramilitary forces in Colombia at Coca-Cola bottling
plants. In India, Coke’s bottling plants have been accused of contributing
to severe water shortages, water pollution, and hazardous disposal
of solid waste. Rulings by the Indian court system have temporarily
shut Coke plants down due to the growing anger at Coca-Cola by local
communities. We’ve heard this all before.
The Coke Coalition now consists of 20 student organizations. We welcome
our new members, including the Graduate Employees Organization, the
Native American Student Association and the United Asian American
Organizations, and now proudly represent over 4,000 graduate and undergraduate
students. We are escalating pressure as Coca-Cola goes on trial on
April 25. We demand that our Code of Contact be upheld; we demand
that all nine University-Coca Cola contracts be cut; we demand the
decision is made before we leave campus.
Coke’s denials are weak. It cites statements by SINALTRAINBEC, its
imposed union with a membership of 20. It refuses to allow independent
investigations, but laud those done by the for-profit Cal Safety Compliance
Corporation. Lori Billingsley, issues director and media relations
chair for Coke, has just resigned for “personal reasons.” In India,
Colombia and across the world, the demonstrations continue.
The hearing is set for April 25, at 3:30 p.m. in the Anderson Room
of the Union. It is open to the public, and we encourage students
who would like their University to live up to its moral and ethical
obligations to its students, employees and contract partners to turn
out in force. The Coke Coalition will be bringing speakers who have
dealt directly with Coca-Cola’s human and environmental rights violations,
and Coca-Cola will be sending representatives as well. We look forward
to this opportunity to once again prove why Coke is out of line with
our Code of Conduct. Now we just call for a decision to be made.
Hearst is an RC sophomore, Purdy is an LSA sophomore, Brandvain
is an LSA sophomore, Woiwode is an LSA senior and Woll is a RC senior.
All are members of the Coke Coalition.
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