Tomato workers order justice from McDonald’s

Twenty members of the Coalition of Immokalee Workers (CIW) and their allies toured campuses and communities in Kentucky, Illinois and Indiana, Oct. 13-24, with a message to consumers and McDonald’s executives: “There’s sweatshop tomatoes under the Golden Arches!”

CIW is a membership-led organization of mostly Latino, Haitian and Mayan Indian low-wage immigrant workers based in southwest Florida. They have been organizing for over a decade to eliminate cases of modern-day slavery there.

CIW teamed up with the Student/Farmworker Alliance, which has called for two days of actions on Oct. 27-28 to support the workers, and the United Students Against Sweatshops. The campaign hopes to spread awareness and apply pressure on McDonald’s to take the steps necessary end human rights abuses in the tomato fields and to win higher wages for the workers.

The tour picketed at McD’s headquarters outside of Chicago on Oct. 20.

In 2005, the CIW and its allies, after a four-year boycott of Taco Bell, reached a historic agreement with the fast food company to increase wages and improve working conditions through a stricter code of conduct. For more information go to www.ciw-online.org.

Historians hold teach-ins on Iraq war

An urgent call for nationwide teach-ins on the Iraq war leading up to Election Day has been issued by Historians Against the War. As the violence in Iraq and across the Middle East intensifies, along with attacks on civil liberties here in the U.S., HAW says the need for informed public debate is vitally important, especially with midterm elections approaching.

Their web site reads, “As historians, concerned scholars, students and activists, we are acutely aware that the transformations now occurring have far-reaching implications for our current lives and for future generations.” HAW appealed to professors and students across the country to help organize the events. As of Oct. 18, at least 40 teach-ins were slated to take place.

HAW asks, “Why is the U.S. still occupying Iraq? How and when can we withdraw? And what are the prospects for a new war in Iran or Syria?” HAW has prepared a list of speakers for events with leaders from United for Peace and Justice, Military Families Speak Out, Gold Star Parents, Iraq Veterans Against the War and the National Youth and Students Peace Coalition. For more info: www.historiansagainstwar.org/teachin/.

Illinois schools plan to dump Coke

Dominican University in northern Illinois has recently stopped the sale of Coke products on campus and has entered an exclusive agreement with Pepsi, in part because of student concerns that Coke is involved in human-rights abuses against its workers in Columbia.

The Campaign to Stop Killer Coke says it has set up shop on more than 150 campuses around the world, urging schools to stop business with the soft drink giant. According to the campaign, 30 schools have dropped Coke. In Miami, the campaign has filed a federal lawsuit against the U.S. Corporation and a bottling company in Colombia. The lawsuit states that Coke bottlers there have “contracted with or otherwise directed paramilitary security forces who murdered, tortured, unlawfully detained or silenced union leaders.” The University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana as well as DePaul University in Chicago have also considered dumping coke for Pepsi, due to student protests and ongoing investigative reports about the subject. Erika Corona, a student at U of I in Urbana and a member of Students for Peace and Justice there, said, “Our school is a promoter of social justice; we’d be going back on our word if we did sell Coke.”

Law students defend youth against ‘Cocaine’

Five second-year law students and their professor at the Cleveland-Marshall College of Law are opposing the trademark “Cocaine” for a high-caffeine, high-sugar energy drink that is being marketed to children and young adults.

Redux Beverages LLC, a Las Vegas company, and its co-founder James Kirby are using Cocaine as the name for their new soft drink, which is being sold at bars and stores, mostly in New York and in California.

The Cleveland State University students, on behalf of the Progressive Intellectual Property Law Association and Americans for Drug Free Youth Inc., oppose the drink trademark, saying it is “immoral and scandalous,” and therefore in violation of federal law.

— Compiled by Pepe Lozano (plozano@pww.org).

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