December 1, 2014
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – Grabbing a can of Coca-Cola at your next union meeting might be out of the question now that the American Federation of Teachers has decided to dump the soft drink giant citing a plethora of disturbing anti-labor practices dating back decades and stretching around the globe.
The AFT ’s Coca-Cola ban comes after passage of a resolution introduced at the union’s 2014 National Convention held in November, and now means that that those ubiquitous red and white cans will no longer be available inside AFT offices, venues, events, conferences or conventions.
In addition to that, the 1.6-member union – part of the AFL-CIO – is also urging its many affiliates across the country, to follow its lead.
Barbara Bowen, AFT executive board member and president of the Professional Staff Congress/ CUNY, introduced the resolution.
Worker advocates and human rights activists have criticized Coca-Cola for years, alleging a host of ugly labor practices that run directly counter to the company’s well-cultivated public image.
Among the most startling allegations, include Coca-Cola’s connection to the murder and kidnapping of South American labor leaders, the exploitation of children, and the outsourcing of jobs to poverty-wage contractors.
Conservatives and other anti-labor elements have been quick to dismiss the AFT’s decision to drop Coca-Cola, but longtime worker activists are hailing the move.
“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,” said Ray Rogers, director, Corporate Campaign, Inc. and the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke.
Contrary to Coca-Cola’s cheerleaders, Rogers says that the AFT’s action is “very significant” and follows the loss of numerous school contacts, and a growing number of other labor unions banning Coca-Cola products.
“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 added.
Coca-Cola’s explosive labor record has been the subject of numerous special reports and documentaries including “The Coke Machine: The Truth Behind the World’s Favorite Soft Drink,” among others.