Sunday, April 09, 2006

Flight 280 to Chicago

I spent this past weekend in Boston for a college visit. The flight to Boston was a United Airlines flight, which serves Pepsi products, but the flight back was AirTran airways. When the flight attendant, named Tiffany, asked me what I would like to drink, I asked her for a Pepsi. She replied, "Would Coke be okay." I explained to her the situation with Coca Cola, and she was amazed at what I told her. There was nothing she could do though, as she explained that Coca Cola products were the only non-alcoholic beverages they had.

Thus, I looked at her, smiled, and said, "In that case, I'll have a Bud Light." Needless to say, I was thirsty for the rest of the flight.

A little later on, Tiffany returned to my seat with another flight attendant named Aisha (I guessed on the spelling). Tiffany had told her about the Coca Cola Controversy, and Aisha wanted to hear about it directly from me. Before I knew it, I had managed to distribute our web address to the flight attendants and a dozen passengers around me, as everyone was amazed by what I was doing at Loyola. Tiffany told me that she would tell her supervisor about the Coca Cola Controversy the next time she saw him. We may be fighting to kick Coca Cola out of Loyola, but that doesn't mean we can't kick it out of AirTran airways too.

10 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I have a few things to say.

First, after some prelim research, I found that your statement that Coca-Cola Corp. owns the majority of shares in Coca-Cola FEMSA is incorrect. The majority share holder is FEMSA, the largest beverage compay in South and Central America.

Secondly, there have been plenty of investigations into these allegations. There has been one investigation by the attonery of Colombia, one by the judicial system, as well as by an independent organization that concluded there have been no mistreatments or any prove of the allegations. (That comes from a very prominent consulting firm in the world which focuses on worker's rights and abuse. They even went to far as to say that at Coca-Cola FEMSA, the workers are the best treated, the union is listened to and they have many rights that other workers in Colombia have.)

Thirdly, the student activism organization in all of the UK and Ireland has suspended their boycott of Coca-Cola due to the fact that the allegations against Coke have no evidence and no "meat" behind them.

I implore you, as leftist, revolutionaries, to please look at all the facts and all the wealth of information from both sides, not just the sites who are pro-your cause. Those sites have flawed information. It is imperative to organize and understand both sides of an issue, before drastically accusing a corporation of something they have not done.

In addittion, I completely disagree with the accusing of Coca-Cola Corp due to that fact that they are on the top. The right thing to do is to attacl the closest to the problem, i.e. FEMSA and the companies that own the actual plant. Going straight to the top is incorrect and wrong.

I am not trying to discourage the questioning of certain practices, but I would hope that you, if you are going to question, are supplied with all the right information and you start your questioning at the right level, not by jumping to the top.

~Fuser

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Amen to you, Fuser. well said.

I'm still here checking everyday, just no pro-coke comments have been left for me to respond to.

-max

11:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

anti-coke*

11:11 PM  
Anonymous Christine Hooyman said...

Please link your sources.

You claim "there have been plenty of investigations" and your research has led you to different views on this issue. In no way am I discrediting your statements, but I believe reputable, factual support would be nice. Likewise, those against Coca Cola need to do the same.

Furthermore, using generalities, such as "you leftists" is a mistake. Issues concerning human rights transcend liberalism or conservatism. It is a mistake to claim those against Coca Cola are solely leftists.

I agree that we must take accountability for our actions. Just blaming Coca Cola is wrong, because the corporation is supported through venders, shareholders and us, the general consumers. We all take part, and thus claim responsibility, for any actions Coca Cola partakes in. However, a hierarchy is established and Coca Cola still has ultimate responsibility for its actions. We, as consumers, are called to question and challenge the corporations when problems arise.

I further agree it’s extremely important to be as well informed as possible, before jumping into an issue. This is why I am wondering about your sources, and would like to see the studies and articles that support your claim.

Thank you.
-Christine

8:37 AM  
Blogger Stop Killer Coke said...

A couple of responses:

First, there have been four investigations into Coke's abuses -- none independent.

The two Colombian investigations, of course, are suspect. These authorities have not been able to convict many, if any, of the murderers, kidnappers or torturers of unionists. That's why there is a lawsuit in Miami under the Alien Tort Claims Act which allow people from other countries to sue in U.S. courts against American corporations if the victims cannot expect justice in their own country.

The investigation by the Cal-Safety Compliance Corp. has been totally discredited. See United Students Against Sweatshops report at: www.killercoke.org/usascal.htm. Coke paid for the "investigation" and Cal-Safety has a very bad record of uncovering abuses.

A fourth investigation that Coke no longer speaks of was done by White & Case. It turns out that White & Case are Coke's lawyers in the Alien Tort Claims lawsuit.

There has been a fifth investigation and that was the one done by New York City Council Member Hiram Monserrate. His report is at: www.killercoke.org/report.htm. His factfinding mission found: "The delegation found both the quantity and the nature of Coca-Cola workers' allegations shocking and compelling. It seems indisputable that Coke workers have been systematically persecuted for their union activity. It seems equally evident that the company has allowed if not itself orchestrated the human rights violations of its workers, and it has benefited economically from those violations, which have severely weakened the workers' union and their bargaining power."

Finally, it is true that Coca-Cola (Atlanta) does not own a majority of FEMSA's stock. It intentionally maintains its ownership at less that 50% in order to avoid liability caused by its bottlers wrongdoing. This was noted in an article in "Forbes," "Coke's Sinful World" and in a book on Coke by Constance L. Hays: "The Real Thing: Truth and Power at the Coca-Cola Company."

In addition, there are numerous interlocks on Coke's and FEMSA's boards:

On the board of Coca-Cola FEMSA are several key top policymakers looking out for the interests of The Coca-Cola Co.

Herbert Allen III: One is Herbert Allen III, the son of Coca-Cola board member Herb Allen Jr. Herb Allen Jr. is president, chief executive officer and director of Allen & Co., a privately-held investment firm headquartered in Coca-Cola’s building in New York City. (Donald Keough who retired as president and chief operating officer of The Coca-Cola Co. in 1993 is Chairman of the Board of Allen & Co. and he is also one of the fourteen members of Coca-Cola’s board of directors.)

Allen III is now an alternate director of Coca-Cola FEMSA and was replaced as a director by Enrique Senior who is an investment banker with Allen & Co.

Gary Fayard: Senior Vice President and Chief Financial Officer of The Coca-Cola Co. sits on the board of Coca-Cola FEMSA and before Panamco merged with Coca-Cola FEMSA, he sat on the board of Panamco, which was Colombia’s largest bottler and a defendant in the Alien Tort Claims lawsuit filed by the International Labor Rights Fund and the United Steelworkers of America in 2001.

Irial Finan, the President of Bottling Investment for The Coca-Cola Co., sits on the board of Coca-Cola FEMSA. He replaced Steven Heyer the former president and Chief Operating Officer of The Coca-Cola Co. after Heyer resigned from The Coca-Cola Co.

Charles McTier heads up the Robert W. Woodruff Foundation. Robert Woodruff assumed leadership of The Coca-Cola Co. in 1923 and guided it until his death in 1985. McTier is also a director of SunTrust Banks of Georgia. SunTrust Banks is closely allied with The Coca-Cola Co. through interlocking board members, large stockholdings and credit relationships. The bank also took Coke public in 1919. On Wall Street, SunTrust is knows as the Bank of Coca-Cola.

The following top executives of The Coca-Cola Co. are described as Alternate Directors of Coca-Cola FEMSA:

David Taggart, vice president and treasurer of Coca-Cola Co.

Charles Fruit, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer of Coca-Cola Co.

Mark Harden, president of The Servicesource, a shared service division of The Coca-Cola
Company.

In addition, you should note that:

On the board of FEMSA, the other large stockholder in Coca-Cola FEMSA, and on the board of Coca-Cola FEMSA is Alexis Rovzar, who is an executive partner in the White & Case law firm. This is the law firm that not only represents Coca-Cola in the Alien Tort Claims lawsuit, but is also the firm that Coca-Cola claims did the initial “independent” investigation of human rights abuse allegations and, of course, exonerated Coca-Cola.

On the board of FEMSA is also Robert E. Denham, a member of the law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson, a key law firm employed by Berkshire Hathaway. Berkshire Hathaway is owned by Warren Buffett, a member of the board of The Coca-Cola Co. and the largest shareholder with 8.3% in The Coca-Cola Co. Charles Munger, of Munger, Tolles & Olson, along with Warren Buffett are described as Berkshire Hathaway’s top managers.

11:36 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I see you get all your information from killercoke.org. Of course what you find there will support your thinking, look at the name of the website.

Secondly, yes, Coke Corp is on top, but before you accuse the top of the hierarchy, you must prove the lower levels are innocent of the allegation, until then one should not accuse the top.

It is very easily to point at the prominent corporation as the sole cause of the actions, hence all the allegations. If you look into these things at a lower level, they may not have anything to do with it.

Also, who is going to pay for the investigations beside the company being looked into? All the leftists? I think not.

I use the term leftist quite frequently due to the fact that they are the ones only complaining. Without this complaining they would nothing else to do. I am sorry if you cannot accept that fact.

All the information is from diverse sites, both left and right - the ones who examine both sides, not the tainted one side.

In addittion, I would like to stress that in Colombia, the political system runs quite differently than in the US. That also must be taken into account. The civil unrest and war between the paramilitary and the left must also be considered.

Let us not be so naive as to disregard this information.

~Fuser

12:32 PM  
Anonymous Christine Hooyman said...

Fuser, thank you for your input as I am interested in your beliefs. However, I continue to disagree, so I respond with the following:

Before I begin, you have yet to prove or offer support to your earlier allegations. I am honestly curious as to where this information is coming from. I am always willing to listen to opposing viewpoints. If you are able to support your claims with factual evidence, I would reconsider my own. Please, do share.

I do not get all of my information from www.killercoke.org. My opinions on corporations and my understanding of the relationships that exist between the consumer and producer existed prior to my knowledge of the Coca Cola issue. In addition, my comprehension of Colombia, its political system and current state was established prior to learning of Coca Cola’s alleged abuses. I have considered other websites, such as Coca Cola’s own homepage and www.cokefacts.org. Both websites attempt to disprove the allegations that organizations like Killer Coke make. Please do not make assumptions about me.

Perhaps you misunderstood me. I am accusing the lower levels of the corporate structure, as much as the top. However, Coca Cola as an organization, takes ultimate responsibility. But, I used to drink at least two cans of Diet Coke a day—I loved soda. By continually purchasing Diet Coke, I engaged myself in a relationship, whether I wanted it or not. As a consumer and purchaser of a product, I have tremendous power and influence. I am using such influence to question Coca Cola and ask for independent inspections. If the human rights allegations are disproved, I will be the first one to start drinking Diet Coke again. Trust me, it’s been a daily struggle not to drink/purchase. You are absolutely correct that it is extremely easy to distance ourselves from the “giant corporation” and see ourselves as mere consumers. I, however, see myself as anything but. I must take responsibility and acknowledge what my money is supporting. A corporation is a complex structure, but is comprised of humans, nonetheless.

I hardly doubt “the leftists” are the only ones complaining, as you claim. Although I personally have a more liberal philosophy, I know many conservatives who are interested/concerned with Coca Cola and other issues. HUMAN RIGHTS IS NOT A LIBERAL OR CONSERVATIVE ISSUE. Every human being such be concerned with human right violations, not solely liberals/leftists. I will NOT accept the fact that only liberals care, and complain. I absolutely refuse.

Please do not presume my naiveté or ignorance. Although I have much to learn, I am far from a misguided teen when it comes to human rights issues, Colombia, consumerism and corporations. Do not condescend to me, because of my age and do not make presumptuous statements.

Thank you.
-Christine

6:16 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

people keep talking about how Killercoke.com is such a biased site, which it would obviously have to be considering the purpose of the site, but it is not like the site is making things up. They have compiled evidence and events from various non-biased sources, such as pbs which was stated today.


"Secondly, yes, Coke Corp is on top, but before you accuse the top of the hierarchy, you must prove the lower levels are innocent of the allegation, until then one should not accuse the top."

-you have to blame to top. They run the whole show, if they don't know what their lower levels are doing, that is THEIR problem. If I owned a company and someone was violating human rites in the lower levels, I would assume for the blame to fall on me. The high level is incharge of everything, including it's workers.


"Also, who is going to pay for the investigations beside the company being looked into? All the leftists? I think not."
= a human rights group, who else would?

"I use the term leftist quite frequently due to the fact that they are the ones only complaining. Without this complaining they would nothing else to do. I am sorry if you cannot accept that fact."
=Why call people who are compasionate and care about other human beings "Leftists". That is just slandering your own (I assume)
"side" the rights. This is not a political issue, why make it one. This is an issue of human rights and human decency. If you are that caught up in Americana to think for yourself and care for others, I feel bad for you.

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

"This is an issue of human rights and human decency. If you are that caught up in Americana to think for yourself and care for others, I feel bad for you."

Sorry that is an oxymoron - one cannot think of themselves while at the same time caring for others.

"The high level is incharge of everything, including it's workers."

The highest level of ownership of these plants is not Coca-Cola Corp, but rather FEMSA. I see where the problem is here, a lack of understanding of the business/funtioning side of these plants and/or companies.

You have to agree that Killer Coke only posts information that is relevant to their cause. They will not post anything that might go against what they are fighting for - so it is biased. It should not be your only source.

Lets turn that around, are you so caught up in your own activism that you fail to see the other side of an issue or even acknoweldge it? I think so.

A quote by the moderators of this blog, "ignorance is bliss." I can see all of you are quite blissful right now. I really don't think many people understand the complexities surrounding this issue, but rather, they choose to support to cause to do just that, support the "cause."

Also, it is standard that leftists or, socialists, are the ones who complain to big corporations about issues that may or may not exists.

Why is this an issue of the United States and its company, Coca-Cola Corp.? It is an issue for the Colombian government, FEMSA, the two companies that own the plants, and Coke FEMSA.

~Fuser

8:45 PM  
Anonymous Christine Hooyman said...

Fuser,

You have been avoiding my posts. I have asked twice, this will be the third time.

Please cite your sources. I am very curious.


Thank you.
-Christine

10:11 PM  

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