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Get Coke off Our Beach!

by John Earl Orange County Green Party Labor Tuesday, Apr. 06, 2004 at 5:23 AM

In 1999 the city of Huntington Beach awared a long term monopoly concession to the Coca Cola company in return for millions of dollars and annual payments. But Coke is complicit in the killings of labor organizers and in destroying and polluting water supplies abroad.

From: OC Green Party Labor Caucus


>To: All progressives


>(Gordon, please post on announcement listserve)


>***Tell HB City Council to sever ties with Coca-Cola for allowing death squads to threaten and kill union workers in Colombia and for destroying water resources for peasants in India!!


>***Tell HB Officials not to do business with corporations that don't respect fundamental human rights, including the right to belong to a union and to have safe drinking water.


>***Tell HB officials not to allow the name of Huntington Beach to be used to support advertizing for corporate predators.




>DATE: Monday, April 5th, 2004


>WHERE: Huntington Beach City Council, Huntington Beach City Hall, on the corner of Yorktown and Main St., across from Huntington Beach High School.


>TIME: Please arrive at 6:30 PM for briefing and to sign up for public comments. Public comments begin at 7:00 PM.

Contents below:

--Brief background

--Links to killcoke, etc.

--Sample email letter to City Council

--Background articles


>Brief backgound:


>In 1999 the Huntington Beach City Council signed a precedent setting agreement with the Coca-Cola company that allows it monopoly status on all city property, including beaches, parks and city facilities. In return, the Coca Cola company paid the city millions of dollars and gives the city 0,000 in cash each year plus another 0,000 directed at park maintainence. The company is also allowed to use the city's "Surf City" logo in its advertising.


>But the Coca Cola company has been accused by its workers at bottling plants in Colombia of direct collaboration with death squads that have assasinated 7 union organizers and made death threats against 67 other union members at bottling plants throughout the country. Coca Cola is has routinely violated its collective bargaining agreement with the union and has illegally used intimidation to force the retirement of hundred of union members, according to union members.


>In the meantime, Coca-Cola bottling plants in India have destroyed local water supplies while intimidation and violence has been used to silence critics. Yet, hundreds of thousands of Indians have staged protests and a movement is underway to ban Coke from the country.


>In Mexico, the company uses its economic clout to kill local bottling companies and establish a monopoly in the soft-drink business in that country.


>The Coca-Cola company has a terrible labor record in the USA as well.


>The campaign against "Killer Coke" has reached international proportions and is supported by mainstream and progressive labor organizations throughout the United States and many parts of the world, as well as by many members of the United States Congress.


>OUR GOALS: 1)To ask the HB City Council to look for legal ways to back out of its contract with the Coca-Cola bottling company if it does not immediately begin to respect the fundamental and internationally recognized right to belong to a union and does not live up to appropriate environmental standards wherever its plants are located; 2) To apply public pressure to the Coca-Cola company to respect labor rights and environmental standards; 3) To ask the city council to establish human rights (including labor organizing rights) and environmental standards that would apply to all future business deals between the city and giant corporations that will use city property or its good name for profit.


>Go to for complete information and references.






>(Coke Executive surrounded by die-in protest as he lectures students about business ethics and community responsibility:


>Hunger strike ends, but Coke boycott continues:

Please Immediately Send Email to the HB City Councilmembers (before 4PM today) at:

Subject Line: Public Comments: Please reconsider contract with Coca-Cola.

Body of email:

Dear Mayor Green and Huntington Beach City Council:

I am writing to ask that you reconsider your contract with Coca-Cola.

While I understand the financial attractiveness of the City's soft drink

contract with Coca-Cola dating to 1999, recent charges involving the Coca-Cola

corporation are very disturbing and warrant your careful investigation and

consideration of whether the City of Huntington Beach should have its good name

associated with this company.

There are allegations that Coca Cola is involved with serious human rights

abuses, including some very serious charges involving death squads and killing

of union workers in Columbia, and destroying water resources for peasants in


I encourage you to research these charges, and engage Coca-Cola in a

discussion of these charges. If substantiated in any way, the City should consider

terminating its contract. In any case, discussing this matter with Coca-Cola may

help bring an end to these abuses whoever is causing them.

Thank you for considering this very important human rights issue. Because of

its business linkage, the City has an interest in what Coca-Cola is doing in

the rest of the world.




Phone Number


>Background from mainstream press.


>Now, Brought to You by Coke (or Pepsi): Your City Hall

>by Verne G. Kopytoff

>The New York Times, November 29, 1999


>Beachgoers who become thirsty while strolling on this surfing town's pier had better like Coke. Every vending machine on and around the pier offers only Coca-Cola beverages.


>The selection is just as limited in the city's parks and civic center. As on all municipal property here, there is little evidence that Pepsi, Coke's main competitor, even exists.


>In an effort to raise money, Huntington Beach in February sold Coca-Cola exclusive rights to soft drink sales on its property for nearly million in cash and services the next 10 years.


>"That goes a long way in putting grass in the soccer fields for kids and repainting City Hall," said Donald R. Schulte, president of the Public Enterprise Group, a consulting company that helped Huntington Beach negotiate its soft drink deal. "None of it would come from taxpayers."


>Nearly a dozen cities across the nation have since approved similar contracts with soft-drink companies. The largest to do so is San Diego, where the city council voted in November to make Pepsi its official soft-drink in exchange for at least .7 million the next 12 years.


>Soft-drink companies believe that buying rights to city property is good business for several reasons. In addition to eliminating competition, they hope the access will allow them to build customer loyalty and create a sense of goodwill in the community.


>Officials in Huntington Beach, a middle-class city of 200,000 in the Los Angeles suburbs, chose to solicit a soft-drink contract in an effort to increase revenue and make park improvements. A city consultant, who has experience selling sporting event sponsorships, approached the major soft-drink companies with the idea.


>Both Pepsi-Cola and the Coca-Cola Bottling Company of Southern California submitted proposals. The city council eventually approved Coca-Cola's proposal, which offered 0,000 a year in cash and 0,000 a year for in-kind maintenance.


>In exchange for the money, Coca-Cola got exclusive access to sell its soft drinks, bottled water and juices on three miles of city beach, 60 parks and handful of city buildings. The company can install up to 180 vending machines on city property and use Huntington Beach's Surf City logo in its advertising.


>Peter Green, the mayor, who prefers to drink tea rather than soft-drinks, applauds the deal for helping to balance the city's budget.


>Fears that Coca-Cola would flood the city with unattractive advertising have proved to be unfounded, he said. In fact, he added, the agreement prohibits such practices.


>"It's not like we now have Coca-Cola Pier," Mayor Green said. "It hasn't been intrusive at all. In fact, I haven't noticed at all."


>Cities are not the first government entities to negotiate soft-drink rights.


>School districts, for example, have been selling soft-drink companies exclusive access to school property for at least the last few years.


>But bundling all of a city's municipal property for such a contract is a relatively new phenomenon. Negotiating a deal for a large territory is more practical for a soft-drink company than doing business park-by-park, the soft-drink companies said.


>The marriage of big business and government worries some consumer advocates. They complain that sponsorship deals subvert government oversight of corporations that contribute money to the community's budget.


>"It's not just the pragmatic problem of a municipality pushing a brand that over-caffeinates and over-sugars children," said Jamie Court, advocacy director for the Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights in Santa Monica, Calif. "It's also the symbol that government can be bought for a small pittance and branded with a cola company's emblem."


>Sanctioning a company also raises fears of price gouging. Mr. Court said that eliminating competition on city property could allow soft-drink companies to raise prices.


>Whether prices in Huntington Beach have increased since Coca-Cola eliminated its competition is unclear. For a 20-ounce Coke, the company charges .50 at the beach and at City Hall.


>Bob Phillips, spokesman for Coca-Cola Bottling of Southern California, based in Los Angeles, said the company always charges fair prices with or without competition and does not have exclusive access to the handful of restaurants on city property.


>"People have to remember that city property is only a very small portion of the total land mass of any municipality," Mr. Phillips said. "Yes, at this park, there may only be a machine that carries our products. But you can walk across the street and buy Pepsi from someone else."


>How much extra revenue is flowing to Coca-Cola because of the deal is unknown. The company's vending machines at the pier did not muster a single sale over an hour on a recent cool Friday afternoon, but they will almost certainly attract more business during the summer when the beach is blanketed with thousands of people.


>Cities with outdoor activities are particularly attractive targets for soft-drink companies looking for an exclusive contract, said David DeCecco, spokesman for Pepsi-Cola, a unit of PepsiCo, based in Purchase, N.Y. Residents in such places are more likely to visit a park and work up a thirst, he said.


>"I don't know if we would get as much out of a city in Saskatchewan as in Southern California," Mr. DeCecco added.


>That is not to say that northern cities have no chance to enlist in the soft- drink wars. Pepsi-Cola sponsors Amherst, N.Y., and Lynn, Mass., while Coke is the official soft-drink of East Lansing, Mich.


>Some cities, like San Francisco, are philosophically opposed to the notion of exclusive soft-drink contracts.


>"San Franciscans tend to be very independent-minded and promoters of small business," said Kandance Bender, spokeswoman for Mayor Willie L. Brown. "I can't imagine that this would be something that San Francisco would do."


>Mr. Schulte, Huntington Beach's consultant, said that the city may enter into other corporate deals worth millions of dollars a year. One idea is to sell the exclusive right to install automated teller machines on municipal property.


>For the most part, residents and visitors were unaware or did not care about the city's contract with Coca-Cola. James Gonzales, a college student who was carrying his surfboard past the vending machines at the pier simply shrugged his shoulders when told about the deal and said: "Coke or Pepsi, what's the difference?"


>Background links:


>(everything you need to know, links, documents, letter, etc:


>Coke managers consort with death squads, says union:

Report this post as:

Listed below are the 10 latest comments of 15 posted about this article.
These comments are anonymously submitted by the website visitors.
Chiapas aquifers owned by Coca-cola Tuesday, Apr. 06, 2004 at 8:15 PM
Won't Work nope Thursday, Apr. 08, 2004 at 3:13 AM
What?!?! 1Planet1People Tuesday, Apr. 13, 2004 at 5:18 AM
"Author: nessie" the REAL nessie Wednesday, Jun. 23, 2004 at 4:07 PM
Please don't patronize Pepsi either!! Ross Wednesday, May. 16, 2007 at 4:07 PM
try this sd Wednesday, May. 16, 2007 at 4:19 PM
Re: Try This Ross Wednesday, May. 16, 2007 at 7:30 PM
good sd Thursday, May. 17, 2007 at 3:59 AM
"factory farming" part of the problem Thursday, May. 17, 2007 at 4:50 AM
re: "Factory Farming" Ross Thursday, May. 17, 2007 at 2:39 PM
re: try this Ross Thursday, May. 17, 2007 at 2:52 PM

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