University of Minnesota Must Use Influence to Seek Global Justice
The University needs to take into account the international
fallout of relationships.
The University is proud to be a school working with international
communities. From study abroad programs to courting business with
China to enrolling hundreds of international students, the University
aims to have global reach. That positive influence should be extended
to the contracts the University signs with international corporations.
The most obvious example is Coca-Cola, which has been accused of having
union leaders murdered at its Colombian bottling plants and stealing
water from villages in India. Despite this and the growing list of
international injustices, the University continues to deal with the
Coca-Cola Company and has not brought a public demand to Coca-Cola.
The University has acted with a global mind-frame in the past. In
2000, then-President Mark Yudof signed a statement regarding sweatshop
practices and announced that the University would be joining the Worker
Rights Consortium. The University can do the same concerning deals
with other international corporations.
The University has the influence, it must use it.
In the case of Coca-Cola, the University should demand that it cease
supporting bottling operations that intimidate and murder union workers.
The University must also demand that Coca-Cola stop the theft of water
by contracted bottling plants in India.
The University has already made positive steps for fair-trade coffee;
it must make further steps elsewhere.
President Bob Bruininks would do well to follow the steps taken by
his predecessor and act to make the University a supporter of global
justice and stop supporting corporations with such documented international
human rights violations.
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