University of Michigan to Resume Buying Coke After Company Agrees to Reviews
Associated Press
April 11, 2006

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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