On Friday, March 14, I was disappointed to see an article in the Pipe Dream regarding Ray Rogers visit to Binghamton University. Mr. Rogers has a long history or making erroneous claims against the Coca-Cola company. It’s unfortunate that he continues to propagate these stories, particularly as we have shared the facts with him on many occasions. The allegations made during his campus visit are simply not true.

Two different judicial inquiries in Colombia – one in a Colombian court and one by the Colombian attorney general – found no evidence to support the allegations that Coca-Cola bottler management conspired to intimidate or threaten trade unionists.

Nonetheless, these allegations were the thrust of a lawsuit filed in 2001. The Coca-Cola Company was dismissed as a defendant in 2003. On Sept. 29, 2006, the court issued a decision to dismiss the two Coca-Cola bottlers in Colombia from all remaining cases as well. This decision was upheld by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit in August 2009.

The Coca-Cola Company and its bottlers have maintained operations and have worked to provide safe, stable economic opportunities for the people of Colombia.

A public statement made by SINALTRAINBEC, a Colombian union representing Coca-Cola bottler employees, said that it has “not a single indication” that The Coca-Cola Company or any of its bottling partners has links to anti-union violence.

In 2006, the International Labour Organization accepted requests independently made by TCCC and the IUF to conduct an investigation and evaluation of Coca-Cola bottling operations in Colombia. The ILO completed its independent evaluation of Coca-Cola bottling operations in Colombia and reported that Coca-Cola bottlers are upholding labor standards that have been ratified in Colombia, including respecting collective bargaining agreements and providing a safe working environment. I would be happy to provide a copy of the ILO’s report for your review.

I also want to point out that the Coca-Cola Company had no knowledge of or involvement in any of the alleged actions in Guatemala.

Finally, Mr. Rogers’ comments on marketing our products to children are also inaccurate. We’re committed to responsible marketing across the globe, across advertising media and across all our beverages, especially when children are present. Our policy is that we do not advertise when the audience is more than 35% children under the age of 12.

We value our relationships with the students and administration at Binghamton University. Our mission is to bring moments of happiness to the Bearcat community, and engage in a honest dialogue. I am grateful for the opportunity to set the record straight.


Gary McElyea

Director, Public Affairs and Communications

The Coca-Cola Company

Coca-Cola North America Group