Last October the American Federation of Teachers adopted a resolution to boycott Coca Cola products and to encourage schools to do the same.
Last week the union’s executive council ended the boycott, citing a new collaborative agreement between AFT and Coke to address child labor in the sugar cane harvest.
That didn’t sit well in the fever swamp where Coca Cola is called a “child predator.” Ray Rogers, director of Corporate Campaign Inc., who helped get the boycott resolution passed, said he hoped that AFT president Randi Weingarten “at least got a lifetime’s worth of free product for advancing Coca-Cola’s interests over the well-being of children.”
The boycott resolution cited Coke’s alleged involvement in violence against its workers, subcontracting, murder of union leaders, death threats and kidnappings. The collaborative agreement mentions none of this, of course, and focuses exclusively on the issue of child labor. It’s as mealymouthed and wordsmithed as you might expect.
The first two paragraphs of the agreement are a defense of Coca Cola. The third paragraph declares that AFT has a vast network of stakeholders. Then comes the agreed-upon actions:
* Collaborate to identify local stakeholders in specific countries with expertise in education and/or addressing child labor to facilitate the child labor due diligence studies.
* Facilitate participation of AFT global affiliates Education International and Public Services International in local multi-stakeholder convenings, as needed.
* Collaborate on approaches to the remediation of child labor (when it is identified) and the advancement of school attendance, including engaging with a broader group of stakeholders, as needed.
Or, to be more concise: Find stakeholders, hold meetings (as needed), find more stakeholders (as needed).
AFT and Coke will review progress once a year, probably over the phone.
In AFT’s defense, this is about as well as this entire exercise could have ended for the union. The only other alternative was to watch the boycott peter out… assuming more than a handful of AFT members were aware of its existence in the first place.