1.6 Million-Member American Federation of Teachers Bans Coca-Cola Products Citing Child Labor and Human Rights Record

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Corporate Campaign, Inc. applauds the American Federation of Teachers (AFT, AFL-CIO) for its historic move to ban all Coca-Cola products from its facilities and events, based on Coke’s human rights record. The Union calls on affiliates to “participate in campaigns to remove Coca-Cola products from their schools, colleges, hospitals and other places in which they work.”

New York, NY (PRWEB) November 18, 2014

Corporate Campaign, Inc. and the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke announce that the American Federation of Teachers (AFT, AFL-CIO) has declared the banning of all Coca-Cola products from its facilities and events, as an official policy of the union. This policy is being communicated to AFT affiliates and members throughout the nation and is published on the union’s website. The resolution states that the AFT will (Click here for full resolution):

“refrain from serving or selling Coca-Cola products at its offices…at any venue for its events, meetings conferences and conventions; and

‘recommend to all its affiliates that they not serve or sell Coca-Cola products at their offices and…at venues for their events; and

‘encourage them to participate in campaigns to remove Coca-Cola products from their schools, colleges, hospitals and other places in which they work…”

The new policy resulted from passage of a resolution introduced at AFT’s 2014 National Convention by Barbara Bowen, AFT Executive Board Member and President of the Professional Staff Congress/CUNY (PSC CUNY represents more than 25,000 faculty and staff at the City University of New York (CUNY) and the CUNY Research Foundation).

Young children in sugar cane field in El Salvador.
Photo Credit: Human Rights Watch

The resolution spotlights Coca-Cola’s dismal human rights record and long-standing allegations of violence against union leaders in Colombia and Guatemala, documented by, among others, award-winning journalist, Michael Blanding, in The Coke Machine: The Truth Behind the World’s Favorite Soft Drink [1] [2]; the continuing allegations of the use of child labor by its sugar processors, as reported by Human Rights Watch and by investigative reporter, Mark Thomas, in the nationally televised documentary Dispatches: Mark Thomas on Coca Cola [3][4]; as well as charges of outsourcing of thousands of jobs to what critics call “poverty-wage contractors.”[5]

“You can always count on the American Federation of Teachers to stand up for children, labor and human rights,” commented Ray Rogers noted organizer, human rights advocate and director of Corporate Campaign, Inc. and Campaign to Stop Killer Coke.

“AFT’s actions to hold The Coca-Cola Company accountable for what we see as its reprehensible practices worldwide, can only have a positive impact on society and the daily lives of countless endangered children and workers, who are now trapped in poverty and despair,” Rogers said. “I hope and expect that the National Education Association (NEA) and the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) will take similar action to protect the well-being of children and advance human rights everywhere.” Rogers continued, “The AFT’s principled action is very significant and follows on the loss of scores of school contracts, and growing numbers of unions banning Coke products. This is a direct result of the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke and is costing the company dearly.”

The stated mission of the AFT, whose president is Randi Weingarten, is: “The American Federation of Teachers is a union of professionals that champions fairness; democracy; economic opportunity; and high-quality public education, healthcare and public services for our students, their families and our communities. We are committed to advancing these principles through community engagement, organizing, collective bargaining and political activism, and especially through the work our members do.”

About Corporate Campaign Inc. (CCI):

New York City-based Corporate Campaign Inc. (CCI), founded in 1981, has successfully championed labor, human rights and environmental causes using its unique power analysis, innovative strategies and organizational tactics to increase economic and political pressure on companies, their top executives, board members, shareholders, creditors and political allies to hold them accountable and make them behave more responsibly. For more information call 718-852-2808 or email info(at)corporatecampaign(dot)org or go to:

http://www.corporatecampaign.org/history.php

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About Ray Rogers:

Ray Rogers, a noted advocate for labor and human rights, is President and Director of Corporate Campaign, Inc. and founder of the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke. Corporate Campaign was founded in 1981. Rogers pioneered the strategy of the Corporate Campaign that has been used with success by labor unions, human rights advocates and environmental groups in their battles against corporations.

Time magazine said, “Rogers has brought some of the most powerful corporations to their knees and his ideas are spreading.” Boston Herald described Rogers as labor’s most innovative strategist and “one of the most successful union organizers since the CIO sit-down strikes of the 1930s.” Business Week described Rogers as a “legendary union activist.” Financial Times called Rogers “The Coca-Cola Company’s fiercest foe.

For interviews or speaking engagements call Pat Clark at 718-852-2808 or email info(at)corporatecampaign(dot)org http://corporatecampaign.org/ray_rogers_bio.php

About Campaign to Stop Killer Coke:

The Campaign to Stop Killer Coke launched in 2003, is a worldwide movement with thousands of volunteers seeking to hold The Coca-Cola System, including the company and its bottlers, accountable for harmful practices that dangerously impact on the lives of workers, the environment and the health and well-being of children worldwide. For more information call 718 852-2808 or go to http://www.killercoke.org.


[1] Blanding, M. (2010). The Coke Machine: The Truth Behind the World’s Favorite Soft Drink. New York, NY: Penguin Group

[2] Garcia, C. & Gutierrez, G. “The Coca-Cola Case” award-winning documentary produced by the National Film Board of Canada

[3] Human Rights Watch. (June 2004). El Salvador: Child Labor on Sugar Plantations

[4] Thomas, Mark (Nov 2007) Dispatches: Mark Thomas on Coca Cola Channel 4 Television Corporation (UK)

[5] Thomas, M. (2009). Belching Out the Devil: Global Adventures with Coca-Cola. New York, NY: Nation Books


AFT Resolution

STOP COCA-COLA’s ABUSE OF CHILDREN AND VIOLATION OF HUMAN RIGHTS

WHEREAS, many labor organizations, including the New York State United Teachers, have agreed not to serve or sell Coca-Cola products because of Coca-Cola’s complicity in violence against its workers, especially in Latin America; and

WHEREAS, Coca-Cola circumvents its own code of conduct by hiring workers through subcontracting rather than hiring permanent employees;[1] and

WHEREAS, between 1990 and 2012, nine union leaders of the National Union of Food Industry Workers (SINALTRAINAL), the union representing Coca-Cola bottling plant workers in Colombia, and their family members have been murdered; and

WHEREAS, SINALTRAINAL President Javier Correa, and Vice President Juan Carlos Galvis, have escaped assassination attempts, and they, along with local SINALTRAINAL President William Mendoza, continue to face constant death threats;[2] and

WHEREAS, despite El Salvador’s minimum working age of 18 for dangerous occupations, children as young as 8 in El Salvador wield machetes to harvest sugar cane for Coca-Cola’s sugar processor;[3] and

WHEREAS, three general secretaries of the union representing Coca-Cola workers in Guatemala City and five workers were killed, and four more workers were kidnapped;[4] and

WHEREAS, Guatemalan trade unionist Jose Armando Palacios survived an assassination attempt and has been granted asylum in the United States after Mr. Palacios’ counsel presented, at the negotiation process for his asylum, a letter from Coca-Cola acknowledging that if he were to return to Guatemala the safety of Mr. Palacios and his family would be threatened;[5] and

WHEREAS, the American Federation of Teachers cites, “AFT has a proud history of involvement in the worldwide trade union movement … [and] has lent support and solidarity to unions all over the globe, from those fighting apartheid in South Africa to those struggling against Pinochet’s dictatorship in Chile, to those emerging from the ruins of the former Soviet Union”:

RESOLVED, that the American Federation of Teachers refrain from serving or selling Coca-Cola products at its offices and to the extent possible, at any venue for its events, meetings, conferences and conventions; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT recommend to all its affiliates that they not serve or sell Coca-Cola products at their offices and to the extent possible, at venues for their events; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT share this information with affiliates and encourage them to participate in campaigns to remove Coca-Cola products from their schools, colleges, hospitals and other places in which they work; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT call on Coca-Cola to cease circumventing its own code of conduct by hiring workers through subcontracting rather than hiring permanent employees; and

RESOLVED, that the AFT communicate this resolution to Coca-Cola.


[1] Thomas, M. (2009). Belching Out the Devil: Global Adventures with Coca-Cola. New York, NY: Nation Books.

[2] Blanding, M. (2011). The Coke Machine: The Truth Behind the World’s Favorite Soft Drink. New York, NY: Penguin Group.

[3] Human Rights Watch. (June 2004). http://www.hrw.org/news/2004/06/09/el-salvador-child-labor-sugar-plantations (link is external).

[4] Gatehouse, M. and Reyes, A. (1987). Soft Drink, Hard Labour: Guatemalan Workers Take on Coca-Cola. London, UK: Latin America Bureau.

[5] USLEAP. (March 2010). http://www.usleap.org/files/PalaciosUSLEAPSupportFeb2011.pdf (link is external

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