To the Daily:

Coca-Cola’s injustices still exist; contracts should be cut again

Yet another act of violent union oppression has occurred at the behest of The Coca-Cola Company. The University continues to do business with a company that consistently violates its own ethical Vendor Code of Conduct. The University followed New York University and others in kicking Coke products off campus in 2006 after a three-year long student campaign, but it reinstated the contract four months later. More than 75 schools worldwide have cut contracts with Coke for its environmental and human rights abuses, according to Corporate Campaign of New York.

A human rights injustice happened on Sept. 27 when the college-aged son of a Coke worker and union activist in Colombia was thrown into a van and beaten by paramilitaries. The kidnappers were likely directed by anti-union Coke bottling plant managers. They told him to give his father the message, “We won’t rest until we see you cut into pieces.” This was reported by Colombian food industry trade union president, Javier Correa, who wrote to activists all over the world. Correa spoke at a Michigan Student Assembly meeting in 2004. He recalled the nine murders, frequent death threats, kidnappings and beatings of trade union members by Coke’s death squads. Subsequently, MSA passed a resolution to support the actions of the Coalition to Cut Contracts with Coca-Cola, a group comprised of more than 5,000 students from more than 22 student groups.

University administrators Peggy Norgren, Dan Sharphorn and Timothy Slottow renewed the Coke contract behind students’ backs in the spring of 2006. They had cut contracts four months earlier when the company failed to agree to investigations by independent monitoring groups in Colombia and India. No results of any investigations have been reported, despite the University’s renewal of the contract.

The administration must face its mistake, revoke its contracts with Coca-Cola once again and enforce its own moral policies.

Clara Hardie

Alum

The letter writer is a former member of the Coalition to Cut Contracts with Coca-Cola.

Education is a better indication of freedom than a military

Andrew Gaber’s argument in his recent letter to the editor equating liberals with radicalism and anti-Americanism is old, tiresome and fraught with such simplistic and arrogant biases that it’s almost not worth commenting on (Universities have no business telling the military what to do, 10/05/2007). Gaber has probably been watching too many White House press conferences and presidential speeches. He’s probably been convinced by the notion that freedom is nothing more than the sum of attacks that haven’t been waged on the nation.

Are we free simply because we have a lower chance of being attacked by an enemy, even if gays are blatantly discriminated against in the same nation that is supposed to represent and uphold everyone’s freedom? It is worth noting that there are plenty of secure, sovereign nations that aren’t necessarily free.

Education is and always has been a greater symbol of freedom than any nuclear weapon or B-2 bomber ever made. I suggest that Gaber – and anyone who believes that a strong military brews freedom – open up a history book. “Radical” liberals and their peaceful protests have done more for the cause of freedom than any military body ever has. I especially recommend the chapters on women’s rights and black civil rights.

Jeffrey Harding

LSA senior

Send letters to: tothedaily@umich.edu.

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