By Lew Church
On June 6, the ASPSU student senate at Portland State University voted 10-2, with 2 abstentions, to endorse the Coke-Odwalla Boycott for human rights and union rights in Colombia. The endorsement resolution also urged the PSU administration to kick Coke’s subsidiary, Odwalla, out of the Smith Center student store. The resolution was presented by the PSU Progressive Student Union on behalf of SINTRAINAL, Colombia’s food and beverage workers union, representing Coke workers at 10 plants.
In May, Rutgers University in New Jersey cancelled that school’s Coke contract in support of the boycott. Rutgers is a public college with about 50,000 students. Portland State is Oregon’s largest four-year public university, with about 25,000 students. On July 1 PSU evicted and removed the campus Taco Bell outlet from the school cafeteria in support of the now successfully-completed Taco Bell Boycott (also organized at PSU by the Progressive Student Union). There are now eight campus groups that have endorsed the Coke Boycott at Portland State.
The Coke Boycott’s targets include: Coke, Minute Maid, Dasani, Odwalla, Mello Yello, Tab, Fanta, Fresca, and Mr. Pibb brands. The activist student coalition at Portland State is also planning to ask the Portland Public School District, which has an exclusive contract with Coke, to cancel its contract for the upcoming school year in support of the boycott.
The Progressive Student Union is organizing a globalization conference on Oct. 17 in PSU’s Multicultural Center, and has invited Scott Nova, the national director of the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC) in Washington, D.C., and Liana Foxvog, organizer with SweatFree Communities, to speak at the conference, which is open to the public. The Progressive Student Union recently presented a model ethical purchasing ordinance to the Portland City Council and has asked the PSU administration to cancel the campus Coke contract. Activist students are requesting that PSU become a member college of the WRC, which monitors Third World multinationals and sweatshop operations overseas.
Lew Church is Editor of The Agitator, PSU’s new activist zine, and Coordinator of Progressive Student Union. He can be contacted at email@example.com or 503-471-7798
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Last Updated: August 18, 2005