University of Michigan to Resume Buying Coke After Company Agrees to Reviews
ANN ARBOR, Mich. -- The University of Michigan on Tuesday agreed to
resume the purchase of Coca-Cola products, saying it was satisfied
with plans for two investigations into the company's labor and environmental
practices in Colombia and India.
The university, which has more than 50,000 students on its three campuses,
is among at least 12 schools that had joined a Coke boycott. Michigan
stopped buying Coca-Cola products for vending machines, residence
halls, cafeterias and campus restaurants on Jan. 1 after the school
and the company were unable to come to an agreement on the procedures
for third-party reviews on practices by Coca-Cola Co. and its bottling
plants in the two countries.
In Colombia, labor groups have accused the company of conspiring with
right-wing paramilitary groups to harass and harm workers and say
the local bottler was complicit in the death of nine plant workers
between 1990 and 2002.
Coca-Cola is now supporting a review of its labor practices in Colombia
by the International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency.
The ILO agreed to conduct the investigation on March 24.
In a letter Monday to Michigan executive vice president Tim Slottow,
Donald Knauss, president of Coca-Cola North America, said it was in
talks with The Energy and Resources Institute, an Indian nonprofit,
to examine practices in India. Knauss said a plan would be finalized
by the end of the month.
Activists have accused Coca-Cola of draining the water table in India,
causing farmers' crops to go dry; distributing bottling plant sludge
containing contaminants to Indian farmers as fertilizer; and selling
products that contain pesticides in India.
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