Coke’s Practices Have No Place on Campus
UCLA Should no Longer Support Company’s
Alleged Human Rights, Environmental Violations
Some would say that all people can be divided into two categories:
Coke drinkers and Pepsi drinkers. So what am I? I am definitely not
a Coke drinker. It is not because Coke is too fizzy or too sweet,
it's because Coke is too deadly.
I'm not talking about the health risks posed by Coke (I am sure there
are health risks associated with drinking any soda, regardless of
the brand). I'm talking about the incidents that have allegedly taken
place in Columbia, India, Turkey and Indonesia because of the Coca-Cola
Company's bad labor and environmental practices.
The most recent incidents have taken place in Colombia, where labor
union leaders have allegedly been targeted and killed by paramilitary
personnel who want to break up the labor movement, according to the
Daily Vanguard, Portland State University's newspaper.
Even though eight union leaders have been killed so far and hundreds
have been fired, Coca-Cola management continues to turn a blind eye
to the situation, the United Students Against Sweatshops says on its
Allegations of human rights abuses and environmental degradation have
also been made in Turkey and Indonesia, according to a Jan. 23 BusinessWeek
One could argue that this situation benefits Coke, since not having
to negotiate higher wages and benefits with workers equals more money.
The employees help the Coca-Cola Company make $6.4 billion in sales
per year, according to the company Web site, and they deserve a safe
work environment. Instead, Coke has denied any connection to these
human rights violations, according to the BBC.
Indiaresource.org reports that Coke bottling plants in India have
been extracting an excess of groundwater and are therefore creating
severe water shortages. In order to continue its current production
rate, Coke has had to drill deeper and deeper. This results in water
that smells and tastes strange.
Further investigation has proven the water to be unfit for human consumption
because it has been contaminated. But Coke continues to sell its poisoned
drinks. Have a Coke and a smile? More like have a Coke and some DDT.
While Coke management may be ignoring the robbing of people's livelihood,
we should not. Currently Coke is the beverage provider of the Associated
Students UCLA. As we continue to consume Coke products (including
Sprite, Minute Maid, Nestea, Odwalla and Fanta), we send a message
that such human rights infringements are acceptable. We as students
at UCLA have an opportunity to change that message. Many campuses
nationwide have already successfully kicked Coke off their campus,
including New York University, Rutgers University and Oberlin College.
My personal favorite soda was Vanilla Coke, and no other vanilla cola
measures up. But I would rather not drink it than know that the brand
name I support is one that also supports the blatant abuse of its
workers and consumers.
Hussaini is a fourth-year political science and history student
and a member of the Coke-Free Campus movement.
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