NYU’s ban on Coke products was reaffirmed by the CAS Student Council yesterday. After an hour long debate between a member of Students Creating Radical Change, and two members of the College Republicans, the CAS Student Council General Assembly voted overwhelmingly to continue backing the ban. Two reports of the vote count gave 21-5 or 30-4 as the margin of victory.
The CAS vote supports a ban put in place by the NYU Senate in 2005 in response to the paramilitary assasinations and kidnappings of Columbian Coke Bottling Plant union leaders and their families. The vote rejects claims made by the Coke Company and their supporters that a document produced by the International Labor Organization constitutes a ‘independent investigation of human rights abuses committed against the Sinaltrainal Union’.
The ILO report not even contain the words ‘human rights’ or ‘assasinations’, but it never even claims to be an investigation – it writes up an 11 day walkthrough of bottling plants in Columbia, where workers were interviewed in the presence of their bosses, and no evidence was demanded to support or disprove claims. Also, Coke’s director of global labor relations, Ed Potter, is the US ambassador to the ILO, putting the independence of the organization in question.
Human rights abuses, including kidnappings, torture and death threats against the SINALTRAINAL union continue to this day. NYU made a promise to workers in Columbia that it would hold Coke accountable for this reign of terror. Lifting the ban now would betray that promise, and provide a foothold for Coke to undermine support for the ban in the 52 colleges and universities that stood up to them and demanded respect for the right to organize, and an end to human rights abuses.