Teamsters Urge NCAA to Drop Coke Sponsorship

In Atlanta, Union Cites Labor, Human Rights, and Environmental Abuses



Mar 31, 2007, 01:00 ET from International Brotherhood of Teamsters

    ATLANTA, March 31 /PRNewswire/ -- Teamsters rallied today in
 Coca-Cola's hometown of Atlanta at the NCAA Men's Final Four game to urge
 the NCAA to drop key sponsor Coca-Cola. Along with Teamster members handing
 our fliers, six Teamster tractor-trailers displaying banners reading
 "Coca-Cola Cash Corrupts - NCAA: Dump Coke Sponsorship" surrounded the
 Georgia Dome in Atlanta.
     Saturday's action is part of a month-long effort to target Coke for its
 worker abuses. The Teamsters cited Coca-Cola's destruction of natural
 resources in developing countries, its worker and human rights abuses in
 the United States and abroad, and the elimination of good-paying U.S. jobs
 at Coke bottler and distributor Coca-Cola Enterprises (CCE). Both Coca-Cola
 and CCE are based in Atlanta.
     At the Georgia Dome, Teamsters also handed out Thunderstix noisemakers
 reading, "Coca-Cola: Cash Corrupts," which were enthusiastically snapped up
 by fans entering the stadium.
     "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 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."
     Throughout the March Madness playoffs, the Teamsters have handed 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 union says it is prepared to increase
 the pressure until Coke and CCE cease these abuses.
     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.
     CCE plans to eliminate and restructure thousands of middle-class jobs
 in the United States 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."
     "Workers get the short end of the stick with Coke," Cipriani said. "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 Coca-Cola."
     The Teamsters Union represents more than 14,000 Coca-Cola and CCE
 employees in the United States and Canada.
 
 

SOURCE International Brotherhood of Teamsters