solidarity across unions

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Minnesota: Students Organize Against Coke at McCalester "Among the speakers present were Juan Figueroa and Gerardo Cajamarca who discussed their own personal experiences with Coca-Cola destroying unions in Colombia (Pulse reported Coca-Cola’s ties to the paramilitary in Colombia in its October issue). Also present was Sanat Mohanty from Jamshedpur, India, who discussed Coca-Cola’s depletion of his country’s water supply through its manufacturing plants. Cajamarca, who worked in Colombia as a human rights investigator for SINAL TRAINAL, is now in exile in the United States. “Sinal has seen union members drop from 5,000 to 2,100,” he said. “Coca-Cola has been successful in breaking up unions.” He also estimates that 14,000 union leaders have been killed by the paramilitary. Cajamarca points to the recent assassination of union leader Esido Hill in front of the other bottlers as a tactic that the paramilitary has used to discourage unions. As more and more bottlers become subcontractors instead of union members, Coca-Cola saves money, as they only have to pay subcontractors half of what union members make. While Spain and France have been quite receptive to the problems with the Coca-Cola corporation, even creating documentaries on the issue, America has yet to fully catch on. Cajamarca says that while getting the word out against Coke has been tricky with larger media outlets, students have been receptive to the cause."
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The Coalition of Graduate Employee Unions is a loose-knit coalition of labor unions in the USA and Canada that represents graduate students employed as teachers, researchers, and administrative staff.