Monday, January 02, 2006

University of Michigan hates the working man

University of Michigan hates the working man.

Well, no. They just don't think about things like the local economy and 'thinking globally act locally'. But really - yes.

Michigan is throwing a collective tizzy over allegations that Coke treats some workers badly, in Columbia, and has environmental issues in India. Granted the allegations are serious (I am not a complete Neandertal) and it's far more nuanced than the NYT article admits - yet it's not nearly as end-of-the-worldian as the Dump Coke site alleges.

Yet none of the kids at UM seem at all concerned with things like the local economy or the jobs lost. The Michigan contracts rang up $1.4 million in fiscal 2005 for Coke, which is chump change for the guys in Atlanta. But I have no doubt the Coke contract was a major part of the local distributer's business in Ann Arbor, Dearborn and Flint.

Whatever - the local Coke distributor has a rocky quarter or two - the business will probably be okay. A few jobs lost, some lives thrown into turmoil .. but hey it's cool - you're Doing The Right Thing.

Via NYT.

1/6/05 Update: I'm wrong, it seems. This happens. UM Student and activist Ryan Bates responded thusly;
We certainly did consider the effect on the local economy closely. Many of us consider ourselves labor solidarity activists in general, and it would be rather problematic for us to harm the local workers movement while attempting to aid another struggle.

The conclusion many of us came to was that U of M switching to a different soda pop supplier would have no net impact on jobs. Rather, those contracts would switch to different local bottlers and suppliers and they would benefit from the 1.4 million dollars. most of the local jobs affected are actually held by distributors who are more than happy to sell the university Coke, Pepsi, Faygo (our local cola), Pabst Blue Ribbon, or anything else.

Thanks for the support,

Ryan Bates
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