Not many companies can claim to have such a long history as Coca-Cola has but, then again, with a look at their past I don’t think many people would want to.

Coca-Cola was founded in 1886 by a formal colonel of the confederate army. Coke was served with cocaine in it up until 1903 when they made the switch to more sugar (cocaine was still legal in the U.S. until 1914). The change in ingredient had some to due with race relations because of rumors that ‘black men who drink coke, and are high on cocaine, were raping white women. In fact. Martin Luther King Jr. called for a boycott against Coca-Cola because of their human rights violations and racist discriminations.

As time has continued, the blurry and spotted story of Coca-Cola keeps growing. In fact, they have so many law suits against them and a whole list of unethical practices that I cannot list them all here.

You can find law suits and abuses from Coca-Cola in Colombia, Guatemala, Turkey, China, Mexico, El Salvador, and India.

Coca-Cola was named corporate villain in 2015 Better World Shopper most significantly for, ‘hindering clean water access abroad,’ and for being a target to human rights boycotts. A few examples of these are listed below,

Colombia: In 2001 a union in Columbia sued Coca-Cola for murdering union members and threatening others. When brought to U.S. courts Coca-Cola had their name removed from the lawsuit.

Guatemala: In 2010 Coca-Cola was sued by Guatemalan laborers who faced violence and threats for unionizing as well. One of the plaintiffs faced violence when he joined the union in 2004, he was shot and threatened at the Coca-Cola bottling plant, his home was broken into and his family threatened, and was fired with no cause.

India: Coca-Cola put in bottling plant in a small village in 2000, within a year the community became concerned with the rapid decline in water in their town. The loss of water equated to farmers losing money in the area, and women having to walk an extra 5-6 km to get eater everyday. Because of the immense need and problems the lack of water was creating children were being pulled out of school to help fetch water and/or work to provide more income. Many people, specifically a few college campuses, rose awareness to this problem but Coke did not respond to the problem and just put people to ease by saying that they were going to work on it. This incident not only an example of Coca-Cola not meeting their own standards but also failing to comply with government regulations, failure to shut down a plant that is causing harm, and failing to do their environmental assessment before and during putting in a new manufacturing plant.

China: In 2008 and 2009 Coke plants were accused and found to have workers in dangerous conditions, forcing overtime, and not paying fair wages. Some plants were forcing workers to work 12-hour days for over a month without a day off. Two years before this Coca-Cola was also accused of benefitting from prison labor in China.

And in 2006 54 U.S. bottlers filed lawsuits against Coke as well as a lawsuit in 2001 from PepsiCo against the Sherman Anti-Trust Act that prevents monopolies.

Coca-Cola also has a tarnished image in the U.S. and other consuming countries for its immensely high sugar content and their supposed role in the rise in obesity in the U.S. Although, that seems to be the least of our troubles.

Coca-Cola is worth $180-190 billion and is in the top 5 largest corporations. Yet, to be in this place, they have diminished human dignity, walked over the vulnerable, and have caused numerous problems in other places.

I think that this gives us reason to stop thinking of the sugar content in a glass of Coke and begin to focus on the disgusting amount of injustice and corruption that comes in each cup.

Better World Shopper: F, and corporate villain

Written By: Katelynn Behrens