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In solidarity with Colombian trade unionists

UAW supports Coca-Cola boycott

Published Nov 28, 2010 9:55 PM

Over 120 labor activists met at the Convention Center in Columbus, Ga., before going to the rally at the gates of the School of the Americas on Nov. 20. They came from Minnesota, Wisconsin, Illinois, Georgia, Michigan, Florida, the District of Columbia, Massachusetts, Maryland, Alabama and New York, and represented a variety of service, construction, manufacturing, public sector and educational unions. Many students were also in the meeting.

The largest delegation was from the United Auto Workers. International President Bob King addressed the meeting and was the featured labor speaker at the afternoon rally. King announced that the UAW was now fully behind the Coca-Cola boycott and that all UAW halls and buildings would soon be Coke-free.

The UAW showed a video about its participation over the years in the protests outside the SOA. Videographer and retired UAW Local 909 President Frank Hammer stated that repression can also occur in the U.S. itself, as evidenced by the recent FBI attacks on progressive activists on Sept. 24. North Carolina activist Kosta Harlan spoke about his recent harassment by the FBI and pointed out that many of those targeted are labor activists.

Ray Rogers, organizer and founder of the Campaign to Stop Killer Coke, introduced a former Coke worker from Guatemala, José Armando Palacios. Palacios had to seek asylum in the U.S. after Coke had thugs invade his home and hold a gun to his nine-year-old daughter. A coworker of his saw his son and nephew murdered, and his daughter was gang-raped.

“I have decided not to keep my mouth shut,” he said. Other speakers included SOAWatch Latin America Project Coordinator Lisa Sullivan and Alfonso Mayfield, president of the Florida SEIU Public Service Workers.

The featured speaker was Álvaro Francisco Morales Sánchez, second vice president of FECODE, the Colombian teachers union. He said that while we have to take on the SOA, we also have to take on “the intellectual authors of all of this killing,” whom he identified as the U.S. banks and corporations. “The empire can be destroyed,” Morales said. “It is a colossus with feet of clay.”