Coca-Cola utilizes the
advertising slogan "Life Tastes Good." That's apparently not
the case for workers -- and especially union leaders -- at Coke bottlers in
The United Steelworkers union
and the International Labor Rights Fund have filed suit against Coca-Cola
alleging that the company and some of its bottlers utilize right-wing
paramilitary groups to intimidate and assassinate labor organizers. [story
from The New York Times]
Coca-Cola of course denies
the charges. While I have no first-hand knowledge that the charges are
true, it is undisputed that scores of union leaders in Columbia have been
killed this year. And the number of union workers at Coca-Cola plants
in Columbia has dropped from 1,300 to 450 in the last seven years.
U.S. companies have a long
history in Central America of utilizing illegal and often violent means to
stifle unions and keep wages low. These allegations would certainly
fit that pattern.
The excuse used before was
that the efforts were really aimed at fighting Communism. However
ludicrous that claim used to be, it can't be used now at all, given the
demise of the Soviet Union.
So again, as before, the real
cause is pure greed -- the desire to squeeze every drop of profit out of
these impoverished workers.
Have companies like Coca-Cola no shame?