Full disclosure: I am a former employee of Coca-Cola Enterprises (Now Coca-Cola Refreshments), the bottler that provides the products to Binghamton University. I am also a graduate of BU and while a student at BU, I was the resident Coca-Cola guy, stocking all of your coolers at the dining halls with our fine products. The company took great care of me even as an employee on the lowest rung – offering 401(k) and pension benefits even to a part-time employee like me, and paying me a fair, living wage for a position that doesn’t even require a high school education. But, I am no longer employed by them, having now moved on to a career as a United Methodist pastor. I no longer have any connection to the company, having sold all of my stock recently. Given that I have absolutely nothing to gain, I have no reason to lie about my experience as an employee.
First, I notice that it appears no attempt was made to contact the local Coca-Cola bottler (Elmira Coca-Cola in Horseheads) to hear their side of the story, given that removing Coke from campus will cost jobs for those folks. Failing to do that is shoddy journalism and can easily impact the lives of the people who work for the local bottling company. There are two sides to each story, and Pipe Dream can’t claim to be a real news source if they don’t make any attempt to get the other side.
Now, to the claims of the article. This bizarre connection they are now drawing to the Reynolds Corporation is trying to confuse the issue by making the two companies synonymous. Coke does buy products from Reynolds, but to say Coke needs to be kicked off because they do is just insane; Pepsi buys from Reynolds, too – Reynolds’ subsidiary is simply the only company that has the infrastructure to handle the packaging needs of large bottling infrastructures like the Coke and Pepsi systems. Coca-Cola Refreshments doesn’t have any mandatory overtime – they discourage it as much as possible given that they have to pay time and a half for that; occasionally schedules mean overtime is almost inevitable, but I never had a problem getting my supervisors to sort something out if I needed to.
The article also fails to understand the relationship between the Coca-Cola Company and its bottlers and doesn’t draw any distinction between the two. Further, the claims about Coca-Cola being involved in murders in Colombia are tenuous at best. Coca-Cola’s bottler in Colombia has a much higher rate of unionized labor than much of the country, and all the lawsuits involving Coke’s supposed involvement in the murders in Colombia were dismissed because there is zero evidence Coke had any involvement in that tragedy.
Rogers attempted to shut down Coke at BU when I was here (I believe the campaign was around 07-08), and failed then. The beverage contract is up for negotiation right now, and so he’s back, and once again is peddling his unsubstantiated claim that the world’s largest beverage company is an organized crime syndicate. Sorry to disappoint, but all the company does is sell beverages. And if you don’t like them, nobody is forcing you to buy them.
Rev. Wesley Sanders, Class of 2010