Union Cites Labor, Human Rights, and Environmental Abuses
Teamsters rallied in
Dayton, Ohio, today at the NCAA Men's Basketball Tournament game at the
University of Dayton arena to urge the NCAA to drop key sponsor Coca-Cola.
The union cited concerns about Coca-Cola's destruction of natural resources
in developing countries, its worker and human rights abuses in the U.S. and
abroad, and the elimination of good-paying U.S. jobs at Coke bottler and
distributor Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE).
Throughout the March Madness playoffs, the Teamsters will hand out
leaflets informing NCAA fans about Coke's troubling environmental and human
rights record - including Coke's possible contamination of water and
farmland in India, a current lawsuit against the company for allegedly
allowing death squads to murder pro-union employees in Colombia, and a
record-breaking $192 million Coke paid to settle a case involving
widespread racial discrimination.
The NCAA has designated Coca-Cola as the first official NCAA Corporate
Champion. Coca-Cola is a key sponsor of the tournament, and is paying the
NCAA $500 million in an 11-year beverage marketing and media rights deal
reached in 2002.
"The NCAA should stand for what's best and brightest in college
athletics, including fair play, integrity, and sportsmanship," said Jack
Cipriani, director of the Teamsters Brewery and Soft Drink Workers
Conference. "Coke's record sure doesn't match those high ethical standards.
A company that pollutes, discriminates, destroys good American jobs and may
have played a role in the murder of workers is not a company that kids
should be looking to as a role model. NCAA Tournament fans deserve to know
the truth about a key sponsor of the games"
Here in the United States CCE, Coca-Cola's largest bottler, plans to
eliminate and restructure thousands of middle-class jobs in the U.S. under
a new business model. Coke and CCE are engaged in a concerted campaign to
destroy job security, pension benefits and health care coverage for the
workers and their families. In February, CCE announced plans for job cuts
during an investors' telephone conference call despite Coke executives
portraying their economic outlook as "solid."
"For us, our members come first," Cipriani said. "But, with Coca-Cola
and CCE, workers get the short end of the stick. All this while the current
CEO of Coca-Cola was given a 2006 salary, bonus, incentives and perks in
excess of $20 million. And the former CEO of CCE was awarded $10 million in
cash, stock and other perks in his lavish severance compensation package.
The NCAA truly tarnished its image of a fair player when it teamed up with
The Teamsters Union represents more than 14,000 Coca-Cola and CCE
employees in the United States and Canada.