[Editor's Note - 4/7/2012 - Good news! In the face of progressive pressure, Coca-Cola recently announced its intent to withdraw its support of ALEC.]
(By Jillian Barclay, cross-posted at HubPages)
Why is Coca-Cola sitting on the board of ALEC, the American Legislative Exchange Council? Why is a beverage company helping ALEC write laws that disenfranchise voters, especially college students? When did Coca-Cola decide to branch out and assist ALEC in authoring legislation that attempts to destroy environmental protections? How could Coca-Cola think that America would idly sit by and allow them to partner with a ‘shadow’ conservative think tank that seeks to strip workers of collective bargaining rights? Coca-Cola showed a conscience when they pulled their ads supporting the Glenn Beck Show – is that where their conscience ends? I hope not.
I like Diet Coke and Dasani water, but I will no longer buy anything sold by Coca-Cola until they renounce their affiliation and partnership with ALEC. Coca-Cola contributes to many political candidates on both sides of the political aisle, but after a review of their most recent donations chart, I find that their listed contributions to conservative candidates far outweigh their contributions to progressives. That is their right. They can support any candidates they desire. But I contend that they should not be a sitting board member on the ALEC Private Enterprise Board. ALEC writes the laws that appear in state legislatures throughout the country. When I drink a Diet Coke, I don’t want to be supporting the writing of right-wing legislation.
Why boycott Coca-Cola? Most times, we do not have an opportunity to even know who sponsors these laws, much less take action to punish the offenders. While there are many corporations sitting on the Board at ALEC, I use Coca-Cola products, so I have the power to use my dollars to speak for me. Let’s start with them and branch out from there. Show them that we have some ‘magic’!
As I pointed out in the recent article, “The Smart-ALECs Who Are Writing the GOP’s Laws”, ALEC is responsible for writing the state legislation across the country that seeks to restrict voter rights, destroy collective bargaining rights in Wisconsin and Michigan, overturn the Affordable Care Act, and eliminate environmental protections.
I am opposed to every piece of legislation discussed, so my dollars will not go to support a company that has values that appear to be diametrically opposed to mine.
Colleges Boycott Coca-Cola Because Of Anti-Union Activities
Why would Coca-Cola partner with ALEC to make voting by students more difficult? Coca-Cola sells their products on virtually every college campus in this country. Does Coca-Cola really think that if students knew about Coke’s ALEC membership, that they would support these efforts? Would students continue to buy their products? I think not! In fact, I challenge college students affected by these new laws to join in a boycott of all Coca-Cola products!
As of February, 2011, 43 colleges and universities in the United States were boycotting Coca-Cola products because of their anti-union stance. It is becoming common knowledge on many college campuses that Coca-Cola has become a partner in the legislation that restricts voting.
ALEC has also been responsible for providing model legislation that tightens immigration requirements, similar to Arizona’s ‘Papers Please’ Law. Arizona Hispanic Republicans has called for a boycott of Coca-Cola products because of their involvement with ALEC. They point out that Hispanics buy millions of dollars in Coca-Cola products annually.
Coca-Cola Profits From Students, But Works To Restrict Their Voting Rights
Coca-Cola contributes a lot of money to local school board elections nationwide. Why? Because they want exclusive marketing contracts to provide their products in colleges, high schools and middle schools. Right now, according to Mary Furness, they are seeking an exclusive contract in Springfield, Missouri schools. This story is replayed daily throughout the country. Schools are big business for Coca-Cola. They know that schools are all clamoring for funds, and there, like Johnny-on-the-Spot, the Coca-Cola Company comes running to the rescue.
As early as 1999, Coca-Cola has gone to school more than most students. Coke is there every day, while even the best of students sometimes miss a day or two. Scott Jabobson, Coca-Cola spokesperson says, “kids and teachers who spend hour after hour in school get thirsty. Every time they consume a beverage brought from home, it’s a lost revenue opportunity for the school. So it’s kind of a ‘win win win’. It’s good for us. Good for people who are thirsty who want our products. Good for schools.” The marketing approach of Coca-Cola has remained constant all of these years.
So, Coca-Cola wants American students to consume their products, but works with and sits on the Private Enterprise Board of ALEC; the same organization that is responsible for the restrictive Voter ID laws that disproportionately affect those same Coca-Cola drinking students.
Coca-Cola or its PAC has contributed to the Freedom Project, the Center For Consumer Freedom, the Illinois Beverage Association, the “Every Republican Is Crucial” PAC and many more conservative organizations. According to SourceWatch, Coca-Cola spends $5 Million dollars per year on lobbying efforts.
Coca-Cola owns the following brands:
- Diet Coke
- Minute Maid
If Coca-Cola Cares About The Environment, Why Work With ALEC To Destroy It?
Coca-Cola’s own website states that they promote environmental protections, yet ALEC promotes deregulation in regards to environmental protections. In fact, ALEC has a task force designed assigned to undermining the EPA and its regulations. This would seem to be a contradiction: publicly stating that you support clean air, safe food and beverages, while at the same time working behind the scenes with ‘shadow’ organizations that promote the exact opposite is terrific if you can get away with it. The corporate face of America is a face that can lie without showing any expression of guilt.
At Present, Coca-Cola Has No Response!
I have submitted a query to Coca-Cola. As of yet, they have been unresponsive with answers. Part of the email is as follows:
“I would like to know why Coca-Cola sits on the board of ALEC? ALEC is responsible for the current glut of Voter ID laws that are being passed by GOP controlled states. These laws stand to disenfranchise up to as many as 20 million voters, according to the Brennan Center for Justice, especially college students. Millions of college students buy Coca-Cola products.
Almost all of ALEC’s legislation with regards to environmental protections are designed to destroy the EPA. Why would Coca-Cola sponsor legislation like this?
I am writing a second article that will highlight Coca-Cola’s membership in ALEC. Hopefully, you will comment regarding the questions I have posed.”
If they respond later, I will issue an update.
- Feel free to send Coca-Cola an email yourself (perhaps through the “submit an idea” link?), and tell them you don’t want Coke to support right-wing legislation through ALEC.
- Join any of the “Boycott Coke” Facebook pages, or start one yourself!
- Write a letter to the editor of your local newspaper, and explain why Coca-Cola’s ALEC efforts are bad for students, bad for worker’s rights, and bad for democracy.