Students Organizing for Labor and Equality will continue their Campaign to Stop Killer Coke with a rally on the Diag next Wednesday.
The worldwide effort to pressure The Coca Cola Company to reform its business practices is gaining speed at the University, as the Killer Coke Coalition, a partnership of student organizations from around campus, intensifies its campaign. The coalition is a branch of the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke, a national group organizing against Coke.
The coalition’s goal is to convince the University administration to break off economic ties with Coke and educate students about the allegations against the company. The groups involved with the coalition include Amnesty International, Environmental Justice and Tzedek — the Hillel committee for Social Justice.
“When people find out that Coke assassinated union leaders in Colombia and are selling poisonous fertilizers to farmers in India, they are generally outraged that the university would do business with such a company,” said Ryan Bates, RC junior, and SOLE member.
He added that “(University’s Purchasing Services) has been really responsive.”
The University is just beginning its process to review the allegations brought before them by the coalition.
“At the present time, both Purchasing Services and the Vendor Code of Conduct Dispute Review Board have received a formal request to look into the situation. The next step is for Purchasing Services to summarize its findings and make a recommendation to the DRB for discussion” said David Poszywak, assistant director of Contract Management and Socially Responsible Purchasing.
The campaign to ban Coke from institutions of higher education has become international. Six universities in the United States — including Bard College, Salem State College, Carleton College and Oberlin College — and international colleges such as Trinity College and University College Dublin, have banned Coke.
According to the campaign, the allegations against Coke include hiring paramilitaries to assassinate labor union leaders and bullying workers into stopping any union activity. The campaign contends that since 1989, nine union leaders have been killed and many more have been threatened and tortured.
“The world of Coca Cola is a world full of lies, deception, immorality, corruption and gross human rights abuses,” said Ray Rogers, director of the campaign.
“No campus that takes pride in being a center of ethics and morality should be lending its name, logo and credibility to Coca Cola — nor should it allow it to serve as a marketplace or venue for sales and advertising,” Rogers added.
Other accusations include massive environmental damage in India.
“They have been giving their waste away as fertilizers to farmers in India, but not only is their waste not fertilizers, but it’s full of lead and cadmium. In one case in India they have actually removed (a Coke bottling plant),” said United Steel Workers of America attorney David Koverlik, who is involved with a lawsuit against Coca Cola.