Arbor Update

Ann Arbor Area Community News

UM sheds Coke addiction...sort of

30. December 2005 • David Boyle
Email this article

The Mich. Daily says UM will finally follow (in part) activists’ suggestions and (temporarily) stop purchasing Coca-Cola, due to Coke’s human rights and environmental problems. (More info at link above) A good thing for UM to resolve for the New Year, if one may say.

  1. Vive! Coverage from:

    The New York Times
    http://www.nytimes.com/aponline/business/AP-Coke-U-of-Michigan.html

    The Atlanta Journal Constitution (Coke’s hometown paper)
    http://www.ajc.com/search/content/auto/epaper/editions/today/business_344b0ee163b19060005b.html

    Detroit News
    http://detroitnews.com/apps/pbcs.dll/article?AID=/20051230/SCHOOLS/51230012&SearchID=73231059988809

    U of M News Service
    http://www.umich.edu/news/?Releases/2005/Jun05/r061705

    The Wall Street Journal

    University of Michigan
    Suspends Coca-Cola Sales
    Associated Press
    December 30, 2005 10:43 a.m.

    ANN ARBOR, Mich.—The University of Michigan suspended sales of Coca-Cola products on its three campuses over allegations that the company permits human rights and environmental abuses abroad.

    The suspension, which begins Jan. 1, will affect vending machines, residence halls, cafeterias and campus restaurants. Coke’s contracts with the university are worth about $1.4 million.

    The university and the company said they will continue to negotiate.

    “The University of Michigan is an important school, and I respect the way they worked with us on this issue,” said Kari Bjorhus, a spokeswoman for The Coca-Cola Co., told the Detroit News. “We are continuing to try hard to work with the university to address concerns and assure them about our business practices.”

    Michigan’s decision was prompted by a complaint last year from Students Organizing for Labor and Economic Equality. The student group accused Coke of draining local groundwater in India and conspiring with paramilitary groups in Colombia to harass and harm union members.

    The company has repeatedly denied the allegations, which have prompted other schools to suspend sales.

    The university, which has more than 50,000 students, decided not to renew its contracts when Coke said it was unable to meet a Dec. 31 deadline to cooperate in an investigation of circumstances in Colombia. The university and several other colleges had offered to fund the investigation.

    Ms. Bjorhus said Thursday that a pending civil lawsuit prevented the company from participating. In a statement on the company Web site, the company said allegations involving its operations in Colombia are false and the company has been “an exemplary member of the business community” there.
       —Bates    Dec. 30 '05 - 05:51PM    #
  2. also
    yahoo news
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20051230/ap_on_bi_ge/coke_u_of_michigan

    reuters india
    http://in.today.reuters.com/News/newsArticle.aspx?type=businessNews&storyID=2005-12-31T053721Z_01_NOOTR_RTRJONC_0_India-229941-1.xml

    CNN money
    http://money.cnn.com/2005/12/30/news/fortune500/coke_boycott/
       —Bates    Dec. 30 '05 - 10:23PM    #
  3. Thanks Bates! :D

    There’s also a press release from the Coke protesters:
    – - –
    12/29/05
    For Immediate Release:

    University of Michigan Suspends Coca-Cola Contract: Student Campaign Responds

    After more than a year of student campaigning by the University of
    Michigan’s Coalition to Cut the Contract with Coca-Cola, the
    University of Michigan has temporarily suspended University
    purchasing of Coca-Cola products effective January 1, 2006. While
    the Coalition to Cut the Contract with Coca-Cola is elated that the
    university has finally taken this necessary step to enforce its
    Vendor Code of Conduct, the Coalition is concerned that the
    University still asserts that the Coca-Cola Company is acting in
    “good faith” concerning their environmental and human rights
    violations.

    Since April 2005 when the University of Michigan’s Dispute Review Board recommended that
    the contract with Coca-Cola be cut if reforms were not made by certain deadlines, the
    Coca-Cola Company has been found guilty of several additional human rights violations,
    such as union busting in Turkey. Since May 20, 2005, over 100 members of the union
    DISK/Nakliyat-Ls who distribute Coca-Cola in
    Turkey have been fired, a move clearly targeted to remove the union
    from the plant, then beaten violently when they tried to camp out in
    cardboard boxes in front of the plant to try and win back their jobs.
    At the same time, in the United States, the Coca-Cola Company has
    stalled the process of an independent investigation by demanding that
    the results of any independent investigation be inadmissible as
    evidence in a Miami lawsuit against the company. Several other
    universities around the world, the most recent being New York
    University, have cut or suspended their contracts because of these
    blatant acts of bad faith, yet Tim Slottow and Peggy Norgren,
    University of Michigan’s Chief Financial Officer and Associate Vice
    President for Finance respectively, claim that the Coca-Cola Company
    has acted in good faith during the last six months.
    The Coalition to Cut the Contract with Coca-Cola congratulates the
    University’s decision to suspend the contract with Coca-Cola in
    response to Coca-Cola’s past and continuing human rights and
    environmental violations. The Coca-Cola Company’s efforts to treat
    those violations as public relations issues, instead of taking the
    necessary steps to become a socially responsible corporation should
    not be considered good faith. It is our hope that the University
    will clearly articulate that the contracts were suspended because
    Coca-Cola is violating the ethical standards of the University and
    that the company has done nothing to change.

    Contact:

    Cokecampaign@umich.edu
    or
    Lindsey Rogers
    (248) 376-0057

    U-M Coalition to Cut the Contract with Coca-Cola,
    http://www.umich.edu/~coke/
    – - -
       —David Boyle    Dec. 31 '05 - 01:45AM    #
  4. I also see the AA News is maybe riffing off my own Coke punnery here (heh), see “U-M puts contract with Coke on ice: Purchases suspended in response to worker abuse claims”, by Dave Gershman in the 12/30/05 issue,

    “Coke just went flat at the University of Michigan. ...[etc.]”

    at http://www.mlive.com/news/aanews/index.ssf?/base/news-15/113595730319540.xml&coll=2 !
       —David Boyle    Dec. 31 '05 - 01:50AM    #