Since 2001, Global Exchange has compiled a list of some of the worst corporations based on human rights violations. Below are corporations from earlier lists, or alumni of the Top 10 Corporate Criminals list.
CEO: Alana Drell-Szyfer
Chairman: Arie Cohen
411 5th Avenue New York, NY 10016
Relations between Israel and Palestine have remained contentious for the past 65 years due to failed peace brokering and unsustainable accords. Following the Arab-Israeli War of 1948, historic Palestine was divided into three parts, Israel (77% of the region), the Gaza Strip, and the West Bank. Hundreds of thousands of indigenous Palestinians were made refugees and forced to find homes in neighboring countries, if not in Gaza and the West Bank. In 1967, war ensued again leaving Israel in control of the West Bank and Gaza. As of 2005, Israel has disengaged from Gaza, but has resettled Israeli citizens living there into the northern West Bank while still maintaining a blockade on Gaza.
The United Nations condemns the Israeli occupation of Palestinian territories as illegal under Resolution 242 that states the “inadmissibility of the acquisition of territory by force.” However, Israeli settlements continue to be established to this day in many areas of the West Bank, fracturing the hope of a viable and sovereign Palestinian state. The settlement of Mitzpe Shalem, established in 1970 on occupied land, is the home of AHAVA, a cosmetics company that uses mineral-rich mud from the Dead Sea to make high end skin care products. Dead Sea mud has generated copious amounts of revenue for AHAVA, Mitzpe Shalem, and other shareholders such as Gaon Holdings and Shamrock Holdings since 1988. Meanwhile, Palestinians are unable to enjoy the economic benefits of their confiscated lands and cannot move freely among Israeli settlements let alone live in them.
Misinformation is also proliferated internationally as all of AHAVA’s products read “made in Israel.” False advertising hides the fact that purchasing AHAVA products finances injustices against Palestinians and diminishes Israel’s accountability in its unlawful land seizures. Boycotting AHAVA is one action of many in a larger movement known as the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions Movement (BDS) which calls upon the international community to economically withdraw from Israel to pressure the nation into abiding by international law and thus end its’ occupation profiteering.
Working on it:
Alpha Natural Resources
Chairman & CEO: Kevin S. Crutchfield
One Alpha Place
P.O. Box 16429
Bristol, VA 24209
Phone: (276) 619-4410
Abuses: pollution of rivers, streams, and groundwater; violation of the Clean Water Act; destruction of forest and wildlife habitats; devastation of Appalachian communities
The third largest coal company in the U.S., Alpha Natural Resources is the leading mining company practicing Mountaintop Removal (MTR), which is devastating northern Appalachia. Alpha Natural Resources operates 38 active underground mines, 27 active surface mines, and 10 coal preparation plants.
MTR is an extreme form of energy (coal) extraction—literally blowing off the tops of mountains to expose the coal underneath, and leaving behind millions of tons of debris and toxic waste. More than 2,000 miles of streams have been destroyed to date, and 1.4 million acres of mountaintops and forests are slated to be destroyed by 2020. MTR practices by companies like Alpha Natural Resources poison drinking water, destroy biodiverse forest and wildlife habitats, increase risk of flooding, and wipe out entire Appalachian communities.
Alpha Natural Resources generates toxic waste through both mining and burning coal. MTR leaves behind “coal slurry” ponds made of carcinogenic compounds and toxic heavy metals. These ponds often collapse and pollute rivers, streams, and groundwater. Alpha illegally discharged excessive levels of selenium, a toxic pollutant, from the Brushy Fork coal slurry in West Virginia. The Brushy Fork coal slurry is known to be one of the largest coal waste impoundments in the nation; it was designed to hold up to 8.5 billion gallons of coal sludge.
Alpha’s illegal pollution activity was taken to court, and in June 2014 U.S. District Judge Robert Chambers ruled that Alpha illegally polluted streams, creating unsafe toxic waste, and violating the Clean Water Act. Chambers said aquatic life dwindled and the streams were biologically impaired. The penalty is yet to be determined, but Alpha plans to appeal the ruling, claiming that the court disregarded scientific reports of sediments and temperatures already affecting the river.
Toxic pollutants including cadmium, selenium, and arsenic are reaching local water supplies that the Appalachian people rely on. Appalachian communities are being torn apart by poverty, unemployment, and destroyed land. Poverty rates are higher in areas affected by MTR than in the rest of the United States, because corporations like Alpha Natural Resources enter into communities and destroy people’s land and livelihood. Additionally, Alpha has destroyed the mountain surrounding Crystal Block Cemetery in West Virginia. Alpha’s MTR operation surrounds the cemetery and the cemetery is now barely accessible to families.
Additionally, Alpha’s MTR practices create terrible health hazards and air pollution is severely affecting the communities. Alpha is polluting the norther Appalachia with cancer-causing carcinogens; cancer rates are twice as high for people living near MTR sites. Birth defects are 42% more likely in MTR sites and life expectancy is 1.5 years shorter. Not only is Alpha Natural Resources destroying land and polluting the environment, it is also creating immediate heath threats for the people who live in these Appalachian communities.
Working On It:
- Sierra Club
- The Ohio Valley Environmental Coalition
- West Virginia Highlands Conservancy
- Coal River Mountain Watch
- Green America
- onearth (Natural Resources Defense Council)
- Appalacian Voices
Bank of America
Chairman: Charles O. Holliday
CEO: Bryan T. Moynihan
Bank of America Corporation
Bank of America Corporate Center
100 North Tryon Street
Charlotte, NC 28255
Phone: +1 (704) 386-5681
Fax: +1 (302) 655-5049
Abuses: funding the environmentally harmful coal industry, excessive campaign contributions
Coal is a primary reason for our current global crisis as one of the main sources of manmade CO2 emissions. According to James Hansen, director of NASA’s Goddard Space Institute, decreasing use and emissions of coal “is 80% of the solution to the global warming crisis.” Limiting and halting the construction of coal-fired power plants, which would produce millions of tons of CO2 emissions annually, therefore, is imperative in order to prevent climate change. According to the 2010 World Development Report, “if all coal-fired power plants scheduled to be built in the next 25 years come into operation, their lifetime CO2 emission would be equal to those of all coal burning activities since the beginning of industrialization.” Bank of America is one of the largest investors in coal, lending billions to coal plant projects.
According to Bankrolling Climate Change: A look into the Portfolios of the World’s Largest Banks, Bank of America is the third largest contributor to the coal industry, spending 12,590 million Euros in financing for coal companies and the building of new coal-fired power plants since 2005. Further, Bank of America is not making any efforts to limit funding. According to the same report, in 2010 financing for the coal industry was almost double that in 2005. Bank of America’s clients include big power companies like American Electric Power, Dominion, Dynegy, Florida Power & Light, Great Plains Energy, and Peabody Energy, giving $6 billion to Peabody alone in 2006 for new coal plants. Since coal-fired power plants are expensive to construct (a 600 Megawatt plant costs around $2 billion), power companies require funding to undertake these projects. Banks like Bank of America need to stop contributing to environmentally detrimental coal production and focus efforts on better forms of energy.
Bank of America is also a major contributor to political election campaigns in the United States, ensuring policies that benefit banks are supported. According to OpenSecrets.org (Center for Responsive Politics), between 1998 and 2008, the financing sector including the finance, insurance, and real estate industry (abbreviated F.I.R.E) spent $5,178,835,253 on political campaigns, essentially buying legislation. In the past, Republicans have received more contributions from this sector than Democrats. However in the last two election cycles, big banks have donated somewhat evenly between Democratic and Republican candidates, giving a slight majority of funds to Democrats in the 2008 election. Big Banks truly care only about policy that benefits them, buying off candidates regardless of their party in order to ensure this legislation is implemented. Bank of America is one of the top contributors, giving $1,862,755 between 2011 and 2012.
Who’s working on it:
• Elect Democracy at Global Exchange
• Open Secrets
• Earthlife Africa
• Rainforest Action Network
CEO: Jamie Sokalsky
Chairman: Peter Munk
Phone: +1 801 990 3900
Barrick Gold North America, Inc:
460 West 50 North, Suite 500
Salt Lake City, UT 84101
Mining is an extremely dirty industry. Barrick Gold has a history of haphazardly operating on sites throughout Latin America and has made life difficult for residents in Pascua Lama, a mountainous region between Argentina and Chile. The area is rich in gold and is estimated to take 20 years to completely extract.
In 2007, Barrick Gold set on plans to excavate Pascua Lama with the support of the Chilean and Argentinian governments, which believed the project to be an opportunity for economic development. Some government leaders voiced that creating a mine in the region would improve people’s livelihoods with better wages and sustained employment and provided an alternative to the main agricultural business, which only provides seasonal work. Barrick Gold also ensured that their “modern mining methods are fail-safe and they have taken measures to safeguard the environment” reports the BBC. During this time, concerned community members expressed their worries about a clean water supply as the mining process involves harmful chemicals including cyanide. The communities living there are very dependent on the glacial water flow into the Huasco Valley that enables crops to be grown in an otherwise arid region and concerns were that Barrick Gold’s operations would threaten water safety and that the movement and dust from the drilling would destroy glaciers. Many of these individuals pleaded for assistance from the United Nations, but nothing was done to halt Barrick’s program in Pascua Lama.
2013, six years after Barrick began drilling, water quality has diminished significantly. Evidence reveals that discharge has been seeping out of the acid treatment plant into the Estecho River. The Chilean authorities have fined the company $16 million dollars for environmental damages. The continuation of the mine’s construction will be halted until Barrick provides a solution for the water contamination crisis. Chilean authorities have stated that Barrick has not taken adequate precautions that were formerly promised. Barrick has consequently undermined environmental and community rights in the search for profit-making natural resources.
Working On It:
Chairman & CEO: Dr. Marijn E.
Dekkers Bayer USA:
100 Bayer Boulevard
P.O. Box 915
Whippany, NJ 07981
Phone: (862) 404-3000
Abuses: manufacturing and using bee-killing pesticides; pinning the bee crisis on other causes; exposing farmers ecosystems and communities to harmful pesticides; working to monopolize drug prices.
Bayer is a German chemical and pharmaceutical company that produces consumer healthcare products, agricultural chemicals and pesticides, biotechnology products, and high value polymers. Executives at Bayer are focused solely on profits, and consistently refuse to acknowledge the detriment caused by the company’s activities. Bayer’s pesticide use severely affects the livelihood of bees and human health. Additionally the company works to control pharmaceutical prices and keeps people from accessing drugs that they need.
Bayer manufactures neonicotinoid (neonic) pesticides that are greatly contributing to the bee crisis; the European Union (EU) has linked the pesticides to the large-scale die-offs of honeybee populations in North America and Western Europe. Bees pollinate 30% of food crops and 90% of wild plants. These plants depend of bees to survive, and humans depend of crops for food supply. In April 2013, the EU banned most neonic pesticides, but they are still prevalently used in the United States. Bayer filed a lawsuit against the EU immediately following its ban of these pesticides. Large decreases in the bee population are causing diminishing growth of essential crops like almonds and apples in California.
In the Congressional subcommittee hearing on pollinator health held in April 2014, Bayer emphasized that varroa mites pose a threat to bees, but Bayer ignored the fact that the exposure to neonic pesticides is directly killing bees and also making bees vulnerable to pests like the varroa mites. Bayer uses multiple PR tactics to make people think it supports bees and to deter people from examining its pesticide use. These tactics include buying credibility by funding scientists, supporting “bee care” to appear as a company “saving bees,” blaming farmers, and targeting children. Bayer released a children’s book telling a story of bees that are getting sick due to problems with the varroa mites. The story tells children not to worry and claims that there is a “special medicine” produced by Bayer that will make bees healthy.
Scientific research shows that these pesticides also damage human health, particularly in developing brains. In Puerto Rico, Bayer exposed its farmworkers to hazardous pesticides, not complying with the requirements of the Worker Protection Standards. Bayer failed to meet the label requirements on these pesticides and did not supply water and soap for regular washing and emergency decontamination. Bayer continually ignores the fact that its profits are negatively affecting food supply and the livelihood of American farmers.
Additionally, Bayer’s pharmaceutical endeavors seek to prevent countries like India from creating generic drugs that could be sold at affordable prices. CEO Marijn Dekkers said that Bayer makes medicines “for western patients who can afford it,” referring to the company’s issues with the Indian market. Indian companies are able to create a generic version of a cancer drug for $200 per month while Bayer sells the branded version, Nexavar, for $8,000 per month. By taking legal action against smaller Indian companies, Bayer is working to suppress the Indian market for generic drugs and is trying to monopolize drug prices. The company claims to work towards meeting global health needs, yet in reality it is focused on its own profits. Bayer’s high prices keep millions of people from accessing medicine.
Working on it:
- Friends of the Earth
- Beyond Pesticides
- Doctors Without Borders
- Health Gap
- Treatment Action Campaign
- Corp Watch
- Corporate Accountability International
- Pesticide Action Network
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- Corporate Europe Observatory
Blackwater International (Xe Services)
CEO: Ted Wright
1001 19th Street
Arlington, VA 22209
Wartime and conflict often create a supply and demand economic opportunity between government entities and private enterprise. Following 9/11, the Bush Administration initiated the “War on Terror” which demanded a greater amount of militant services that could not be met by U.S. federal employees and U.S. soldiers alone. Since 2003, the U.S. government has worked closely with Blackwater International, a for-profit company that specializes in contracting military services and weaponry. Contracting labor to the private sector was designed to be a cost effective means for the U.S. to fight the so-called “War on Terror”. Blackwater was able to confirm one billion dollars worth of contracts with the U.S., and has since deployed thousands of contractors to various countries, namely Iraq. In 2003, 1 out of 3 of the international corps deployed to Iraq by the U.S. were contractors of Blackwater, a staggering increase from the Gulf War in which the US only privately contracted 1 out of every 60 people. Today there are more private contractors than US soldiers in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The military contracting business became a very attractive job opportunity for Americans at the start of Bush’s “War on Terror.” Salaries were a generous $750 per day, but as time went on pay decreased along with a less than qualified applicant pool. Qualifications for applicants were reduced to expedite the hiring process in order to fill the need for more people on the field. This also raised concerns about the lack of clear rules governing contractors, which the U.S. Congress had begun to investigate. Despite the risks that Blackwater posed to the countries it operated in, the United States has continued to work with the corporation.
Most notoriously, Blackwater was responsible for the killing of 17 innocent Iraqi civilians in Nisour Square in 2007. Plaintiffs alleged that the company violated international law and, “created and fostered a culture of lawlessness amongst its employees, encouraging them to act in the company’s financial interests at the expense of innocent human life.” In 2009, the case was dismissed, to the shock of Iraqis who believed that the U.S. allowed contractors to operate above the law. The Iraqi government has denied Blackwater a license to operate in Iraq, yet the corporation has continued to work with the State Department to continue its programs there. Surrounding the events that took place that tarnished Blackwater’s reputation, the corporation has since changed its name to Xe Services, but is still commonly referred to as Blackwater. This year the case involving 2007’s incident has been reopened and is now pending.
Working On It:
Resource: Blackwater: The Rise of the World’s Most Powerful Mercenary Army By: Jeremy Scahill
Chairman & CEO: Micky Arison
Carnival Corp USA:
3655 NW 87th Ave
Doral, FL 33178
Phone: (305) 599-2600
Abuses: dumping sewage pollution into oceans; use of cheap air-polluting fuels; tax evasion; unfair labor wages
Harmful to both the environment and human health, cruises are one of the most destructive forms of travel. Carnival Corporation, which includes eleven different cruise line brands including Carnival Cruises, Costa Cruises, and P&O Princess Cruises, is the largest cruise operator in the world with its combined fleet totaling to over 100 ships. As the largest cruise operator, it is a major polluter of the ocean and perpetrator of corruption. The corporation profusely pollutes the environment, is guilty of tax evasion and injustices for its laborers, and lacks transparency with its consumers.
Carnival Cruises received a failing grade for treatment of the ocean from Friends of the Earth’s reputable Cruise Ship Report Card, released at the end of 2013. Costa Cruises also received an “F” and P&O skated by with a “D-”. Friends of the Earth reported that 22 of Carnival’s ships still use 30-year-old technology for sewage treatment. The Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) has found that sewage treated with this outdated technology contains very dangerous amounts of fecal bacteria and heavy metals, as well as excessive nutrients based on federal water quality standards. This sewage pollution can cause human illnesses including gastrointestinal disease and hepatitis through exposure to contaminated seafood and water. Excessive amounts of nitrogen and phosphorus from cruise ship sewage can suffocate fish, shellfish, and coral reefs.
Additionally the EPA reports that an average cruise ship with 3,000 passengers and crew produces 21,000 gallons of sewage each day. This sewage is often untreated and dumped in the ocean. This adds up to more than 1 billion gallons of sewage being dumped in the ocean by cruise ships each year. Since some new ships carry up to 8,000 passengers, this number could be even greater than calculated. Compared to sewage amounts, cruise ships generate and dump 8 times as much waste from sink, shower, and bath gray water. This waste contains many of the same pollutants as sewage and significantly affects water quality. Carnival Corporation owns 105 of the total 292 cruise ships active worldwide, making the corporation the culprit for more than one third of the world’s pollution from cruise ships.
Carnival also pollutes the air with its tremendous fuel use. Last June, Carnival moved its ships from the Port of Baltimore back to Florida because new air quality standards in MD would require Carnival to use cleaner, safer fuels, and these new standards are not in affect in Florida. From ports in Florida, Carnival Corp can sail its ships by burning “bunker fuel” which is much cheaper, but 2,000 times dirtier and worse for the environment than diesel fuel sold at gas stations, according to Friends of the Earth. Carnival is making some advances in this front; the corporation is working to bring ships back to Baltimore and to install ships with exhaust cleaning systems. This is a step in the right direction, but Carnival still has a long way to go as the largest cruise line, creating the most pollution.
Carnival Corp continues to be a corporate criminal through tax evasion and labor violations. Over the past five years, the corporation has only paid corporate taxes for a total of 1.1 percent of their $11.3 billion in profits, according to the New York Times. Additionally Carnival’s workers are paid substandard wages; staff members on United Kingdom-based ships are paid $1.20 per hour, or $400 per month in basic wages, and claim to be denied their tips. Their pay is below international standards. Workers are also allegedly given minimal accommodations and often insufficient food. The cruise system makes it very easy for labor to be abused, and Carnival Cruises has been called a “sweatshop at sea.”
Finally, Carnival is jeopardizing customer safety and lacks transparency with its customers. Often times people who fall overboard are overboard for hours and incidents are not reported. The vast majority of tragic instances aboard cruise ships are never reported at all. In October 2012, Sarah Kirby was aboard a Carnival cruise and fell overboard at night. Although the incident was witnessed and immediately reported, the ship sped off and did not rescue Kirby for over two hours. She claims to not have received medical treatment for 16 hours after the incident. Carnival corporation’s consumers are not made aware of the actual risks they face.
Carnival Corp continually acts as a corporate criminal, and now does not want people to know about its actions. Carnival and a few other cruise lines have announced that they will no longer participate in Friends of the Earth’s environmental survey on cruise lines. The company says its own sustainability reports are sufficient and it does not support the information and data released by Friends of the Earth.
Working on it:
CEO: James Owens
Contact the Corporation:
100 NE Adams St.
Peoria, IL 61629
Abuses: contracting with known violators of human rights, enabling house demolition, supplying equipment that kills Palestinian civilians and American peace activists
For years, the Caterpillar Company has provided Israel with the bulldozers used to destroy Palestinian homes. Despite worldwide condemnation, Caterpillar has refused to end their corporate participation house demolition by cutting off sales of specially modified D9 and D10 bulldozers to the Israeli military. Israel seeks to portray the destruction of homes as necessary to its self-defense, but nothing could be further from the truth.
As the Israeli Committee Against Home Demolitions has rigorously documented, house destruction is part of Israel’s intention to turn the annexation of East Jerusalem and other occupied areas into a concrete fact.
In a letter to Caterpillar CEO James Owens The Office of the UN High Commissioner on Human Rights said: “allowing the delivery of your. . . bulldozers to the Israeli army. . . in the certain knowledge that they are being used for such action, might involve complicity or acceptance on the part of your company to actual and potential violations of human rights…”
Peace activist Rachel Corrie was killed by a Caterpillar, D-9, military bulldozer in 2003. She was run over while attempting to block the destruction a family’s home in Gaza. Her family filed suit against Caterpillar in March 2005 charging that Caterpillar knowingly sold machines used to violate human rights. Since Rachel’s death at least three more Palestinians have been killed in their homes by Israeli bulldozer demolitions.
Who’s working on it:
• Amnesty International
• Jewish Voice for Peace
• Human Rights Watch
• US Campaign to End Israeli Occupation
Century International Arms
430 South Congress Ave. Suite 1
Delray Beach, FL 33445
Abuses: producing Romanian AKs, which are frequently smuggled into Mexico
The Florida based weapon producer is the main manufacturer and seller of Romanian AKs, sold as WASR-10s. This Romanian gun is sold in US for about $500 each and is very popular with drug cartels in Mexico.
Based on demand and economic gain, these guns are smuggled across the US border and while they can be bought for as little as $400 in the US, they can be sold for $2000 to $3000 in Mexico. These guns are made in the US on account of the strict gun law in Mexico, which attempts to prohibit the violence these guns encourage.
For example, a gun smuggler named Cameron Galloway was found guilty of selling these deadly firearms in Mexico, the same weapons found to have been used in a deadly shooting between federal agents and drug cartels in Culiacan that killed eight police officers. The Roman AKs are the most common gun bought in US since 2006 to be traced to crimes. From 2007-2011 more than 500 Romanian AKs were found in Mexico after being sold in US, accounting for 17% of guns recovered according to the Justice Department’s Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.
While US law makes it illegal to import high-powered military guns like the Romanian AKs, gun manufacturers like Century International use a loophole in legislation that allows them to continue production. The Gun Control Act of 1968 banned foreign shipments of guns other than those for “sporting” purpose, such as hunting, and later extended to prohibit the importation of assault weapons. Using the Crime Control Act of 1990, which declares that a weapon is foreign if made with more than 10 non-American parts, Century Arms ships guns like Romanian AKs into the US stripped of any features that do not meet regulation. These imported weapons are then modified in the US with parts declared American to include features like magazines, bayonets, and other harmful elements typically found on an assault gun. These new assault weapons are legal, so long as they are comprised of no more than 10 foreign parts. Thus, Century International Arms create weapons illegal to import, but legal in the US since they are technically American. Century International Arms is one of the main gun manufactures that take advantage of these laws.
The Obama Administration holds that this process is completely legal, raising questions among disagreeing politicians regarding America’s interpretation and enforcement of gun laws. As Arizona’s former Democratic Attorney General Terry Goddard says, “We’re declaring ourselves … to be the allies of the Mexican government and fighting against the cartels. And yet through official inaction, the United States is, in fact, arming the cartels.” Century International Arms produces assault weapons that are often smuggled across the Mexican border, taking advantage of legislation and contributing indirectly to the ongoing drug war in Mexico.
Who’s working on it:
• Alianza Civica
Chairman: John S. Watson
6001 Bollinger Canyon Road
San Ramon, CA 94583
Phone: +1 (925) 842-1000
Fax: +1 (415) 894-6817
Abuses: damaging ecosystems and people of Ecuador, repression of protest to oil extraction, Brazil spill
The petrochemical company Chevron is guilty of some of the worst environmental and human rights abuses in the world. Chevron has seriously damaged the ecosystem and people of Ecuador. In the 1960s, Chevron acquired a contract with Ecuador to extract oil, promising in this same contract to use modern techniques for oil extraction. Chevron, nevertheless, failed to follow these standards.
Chevron did not line pits made for temporary storage of oil waste with tarps to prevent dangerous water and sludge from seeping into the ground, causing toxins to flow into soil and contaminating local rivers and streams used by local indigenous people for bathing, drinking and fishing. Chevron also did not follow regular procedure and built pipes that directed toxic produced water directly into rivers and streams instead of reinserting them into the ground.
It also did not capture harmful gases produced during extraction, but burned these, a process known as flaring, releasing excess greenhouse gases into the environment. When village leaders began to notice black oil in streams and consulted Chevron as to the safety of this new substance, Chevron lied telling the locals the oil contained vitamins and minerals. In truth, the water and soil now contained detrimental petroleum hydrocarbons which can cause brain damage, respiratory problems, kidney damage, liver damage, bone marrow damage, blood poisoning, stomach irritation, skin irritation, cancer and birth defects to name a few.
According to the International Journal of Occupation and Environmental Health, hydrocarbon concentrations had elevated above European regulation concentrations and US Environmental Protection Agency Guidelines, and the risk of developing certain types of cancer was in some areas 30 times higher than usual. Chevron’s reports of the environmental damage were instructed to be “removed from offices and destroyed.”
Sick and fed up with Chevron’s contamination of their communities, Ecuadorians filed a lawsuit against Chevron, hoping to convince the company to repair some of the avoidable damage they had caused. For nine years Chevron tried and successfully moved the lawsuit to Ecuador, praising Ecuador’s fair and equal judicial system, but truly believingit could more easily win outside the US courts. Chevron formed a deal with Ecuador’s government, paying 40 million dollars to cover the toxic damage with dirt, but never removing the harmful substances from the soil. After a thorough and complete investigation, Ecuador’s courts decided this wasn’t enough, and fined Chevron 18 billion dollars for the damage it had caused, including dumping 16 billion gallons of toxic production water into streams. Upon receiving this punishment, Chevron immediately tried and still is trying to avoid these payments. Chevron is paying millions of dollars to lobbyist in an attempt to pressure the US to cut trade to Ecuador in order to convince the Ecuadorian government to terminate the lawsuit. Chevron has also reversed its initial judgment of Ecuadorian courts, now claiming they are biased and unfair.
Further Chevron hired corporate spies like Diego Borja during the case to bribe Ecuadorian judges and convinced military Captain Manuel Bravo to write a false report prohibiting the inspection of its poorly constructed oil wells, yet these deceitful efforts ultimately have failed. Regardless if it finally accepts blame and pays to clean its mess, Chevron will never be able to fully repair the environmental and health injustices it has committed against the Ecuadorians, most which could have been avoided.
Spring 2012, Chevron came under fire in Brazil, where seventeen of its employees (mixed with some Transocean employees) are currently being tried for carelessness in an offshore spill last November and this spring. Brazil filed a lawsuit for 22 billion dollars, claiming Chevron was not careful enough when dealing with risky offshore oil fields. If they are found guilty, the employees could face sentences up to 31 years for these environmental crimes. Brazil is not the first country where Chevron has invested in offshore projects with challenging conditions, also pursuing fields in the South China Sea.
Chevron is also responsible for the violent repression of nonviolent opposition to oil extraction. In Nigeria, Chevron has collaborated with the Nigerian police and military who have opened fire on peaceful protestors who oppose oil extraction in the Niger Delta. In 1998, two indigenous Ilaje activists were killed by Nigerian military officers flown in by the company while protesting at an oil platform in Ondo state. In 1999, two people from Opia village were killed by military personnel paid by Chevron, after soliciting a meeting to complain about the company’s harmful effects on local fishing. And in 2005, Nigerian soldiers fired upon protestors at Escravos oil terminal, leaving one protestor dead.
Additionally Chevron is responsible for widespread health problems in Richmond, California, where one of Chevron’s largest refineries is located. Processing 350,000 barrels of oil a day, the Richmond refinery produces oil flares and toxic waste in the Richmond area. As a result, local residents suffer from high rates of lupus, skin rashes, rheumatic fever, liver problems, kidney problems, tumors, cancer, asthma, and eye problems.
In December 2004, the Unocal Corporation, a subsidiary of Chevron, settled a lawsuit filed by 15 Burmese villagers, in which the villagers alleged Unocal’s complicity in a range of human rights violations in Burma, including rape, summary execution, torture, forced labor and forced migration. Despite the settlement, human rights abuses have continued along the oil pipeline in Burma. Chevron is responsible for the risks associated with this pipeline.
Who’s working on it:
• Rainforest Action Network
• Chevron Toxico
• Amazon Watch
• True Cost of Chevron Network
• Documentary Resource: Crude
Clear Channel Communications
CEO: Robert Pittman
Message “Contact Us” page:
People have the right to expect a multiplicity of voices through the media. However, in the United States diversity throughout the telecommunications industry has been monopolized by a few corporations that seek to maximize profits while also controlling what information reaches the public. Prior to the Telecommunications Act of 1996, no single corporation could own more than 40 radio stations in one country. However, once the Act was passed, this limit was no longer enforced and corporations could legally own an unlimited amount of stations therefore controlling the content that they proliferate. Clear Channel is one such corporation that has taken its new purchasing freedom to overtake radio stations, television stations, billboards and other outdoor advertising, in addition to booking the majority of concert venues, amphitheaters, and clubs in the United States. For example, Clear Channel monopolizes media by advertising on Clear Channel owned billboards for Clear Channel booked shows at Clear Channel owned venues.
Another concern is Clear Channel’s use of voice tracking—a method of recording a single DJ to broadcast over a multitude of stations without regard to local news, politics, music, and culture. Not only has Clear Channel diminished the availability of locally produced broadcasting, but its control over mainstream media has created dangerous circumstances for local residents. In 2002, the town of Minot experienced a major spillage of anhydrous ammonia from a nearby freight train. The authorities attempted to warn residents through the radio to stay indoors to avoid the spill, but the 6 operating radio stations were all owned by Clear Channel, and no personnel at any of the sites was present at the time.
The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) found this incident to be a warning, but simultaneously argued that locally owned stations do not have the capacity to produce quality newscasts, an accusation that was inconsistent with a Columbia University study that found that locally owned radio stations generally produce good local news broadcasts. Later it was revealed that Clear Channel was providing all expenses paid trips to FCC affiliates creating suspicions of bias on the part of the FCC to give preferential privileges to Clear Channel.
Last year, Clear Channel has promoted voter suppression billboards and other advertisements that have been concentrated in communities of color to deter them from showing up to the polls. In October 2012 in Pennsylvania, Clear Channel billboards throughout the state advertised in Spanish that if anyone wishes to vote, he or she must present photo identification. However a court ruling in that state was passed saying that voters do not have to present their ID at the polls. Additionally in the same year, similar threatening billboards were placed in Black and Latino neighborhoods throughout Wisconsin and Ohio that read, “Voter Fraud is a Felony, 3 ½ years & $10,000 Fine.” These billboards were used to intimidate minority voters who may have been uncertain about their rights. It was later revealed that the anonymous donors who funded the billboards were Republican party supporters, Stephen and Nancy Einhorn. The billboards were soon after removed after thousands of protesters petitioned Clear Channel to do so.
This year, Clear Channel’s reputation of media censorship and control has manifested again. The South Wind Women’s Center located in Wichita, Kansas has developed two ads to air on Clear Channel owned radio stations. The Center provides services for reproductive healthcare including abortion care, and Clear Channel has refused to air the ads as they are “divisive” and violate “decency standards.” Meanwhile Clear Channel runs advertisements for the local “adult boutique” as well as “male enhancement” products without any issue with “decency”.
Working On It:
- Trust Women
- Women, Action and the Media
- Public Ad Campaign
- Media Matters for America
- Color of Change
CEO: E. Neville Isdell
Contact the Corporation: Coca-Cola
One Coca Cola Plaza
P.O. Box 1734 Atlanta, GA 30301
Abuses: violent killings, kidnap and torture, water privatization, health violations, and discriminatory practices
Coca-Cola Company is perhaps the most widely recognized corporate symbol on the planet. The company also leads in the abuse of workers’ rights, assassinations, water privatization, and worker discrimination.
Between 1989 and 2002, eight union leaders from Coca-Cola bottling plants in Colombia were killed after protesting the company’s labor practices. Hundreds of other Coca-Cola workers who have joined or considered joining the Colombian union SINALTRAINAL have been kidnapped, tortured, and detained by paramilitaries who intimidate workers to prevent them from unionizing. In Turkey, 14 Coca-Cola truck drivers and their families were beaten severely by Turkish police hired by the company, while protesting a layoff of 1,000 workers from a local bottling plant in 2005. In India, Coca-Cola destroys local agriculture by privatizing the country’s water resources.
In Plachimada, Kerala, Coca-Cola extracted 1.5 million liters of deep well water, which they bottled and sold under the names Dasani and BonAqua. The groundwater was severely depleted, affecting thousands of communities with water shortages and destroying agricultural activity. As a result, the remaining water became contaminated with high chloride and bacteria levels, leading to scabs, eye problems, and stomach aches in the local population. Water shortages have occurred in Varanasi, Thane, and Tamil Nadu as well.
The company is also guilty of reselling its plants’ industrial waste to farmers as fertilizers, despite its containing hazardous lead and cadmium. Coca-Cola is one of the most discriminatory employers in the world. In the year 2000, 2,000 African-American employees in the U.S. sued the company for race-based disparities in pay and promotions.
In Mexico, Coca-Cola FEMSA, the largest Coca-Cola bottler in Latin America, fired a senior bottling manager for being gay. Finally, by regularly denying health insurance to employees and their families, Coca Cola has failed to help stop the spread of AIDS in Africa. The company is one of the continent‚Äôs largest private employers, yet only partially covers expensive medicines, while not covering generic medicines at all.
Who’s working on it:
• Coke Watch
• Corp Watch
• India Resource Center
• Killer Coke
• Polaris Institute
• Public Citizen
• Students Against Sweatshops
CEO: Andrew N. Liveris
Contact the Corporation:
Dow Chemical Co.
2030 Dow Center Midland, MI 48674
Abuses: creation of chemical weapons, marketing poisonous chemicals, illegal dumping of toxins into populated areas, environmental destruction, health problems, death
Dow Chemical has been destroying lives and poisoning the planet for decades. The company is best known for the ravages and health disaster for millions of Vietnamese and U.S. Veterans caused by its lethal Vietnam War defoliant, Agent Orange. Dow’s “invent first, ask questions later” standard of business led the multinational company to develop and perfect Napalm, a brutal chemical weapon that burned many innocents to death in Vietnam and other wars.
In 1988, Dow provided pesticides to Saddam Hussein despite warnings that they could be used to produce chemical weapons. In 2001, Dow inherited the toxic legacy of the worst peacetime chemical disaster in history when it acquired Union Carbide Corporation (UCC) and its outstanding liabilities in Bhopal, India. As the Students for Bhopal website recounts, “On December 3rd, 1984, thousands of people in Bhopal, India were gassed to death after a catastrophic chemical leak at a UCC pesticide plant. More than 150,000 people were left severely disabled-of whom 22,000 have since died of their injuries-in a disaster now widely acknowledged as the world’s worst ever.” Dow refuses to address its liabilities in Bhopal or even admit its existence, continuing in Union Carbide’s tradition of profiting from extreme corporate irresponsibility.
In India, Dow’s subsidiary faces manslaughter charges and is considered a fugitive from justice for a pending criminal case related to the 1984 xhemical explosion. Dow and UCC’s lack of accountability in the disaster continue to affect the lives in Bhopal to this day. World wide, Dow is involved in human rights abuses: environmental destruction, water and ground contamination, health violations, chemical poisoning, and chemical warfare. Dow Chemical’s impact is felt globally from their Midland, Michigan headquarters to New Plymouth, New Zealand.
In Midland, Dow has been producing chlorinated chemicals and burning and burying its waste including chemicals that make up Agent Orange. In New Plymouth, New Zealand, 500,000 gallons of Agent Orange were produced and thousands of tons of dioxin-laced waste was dumped in agricultural fields. Dow’s toxic legacies of human rights abuses traverse to agricultural fields in Central America where Dow exported EPA-banned pesticide DBCP for use on banana and pineapple crops. As a result, thousands of banana workers were exposed to DBCP and became sterile. In retail markets across the world Dow’s dangerous chemicals are present as common household solvents, plastics, paints and pharmaceuticals.
Who’s working on it:
• Dow Accountability Network
• EarthRights International
• Vietnam Relief and Responsibility Campaign
• Fund for Reconciliation and Development
• The Vietnam Dioxin Collective
• International Campaign for Justice In Bhopal
• Students For Bhopal
• Amnesty International-USA
• Greenpeace International
• Ecology Center
• Tittabawassee River Watch
• Beyond Pesticides
CEO: Van Honeycutt
Contact the corporation:
2100 East Grand Avenue
El Segundo, CA 90245
USA Phone: 310.615.0311
Abuses: causing health problems, environmental devastation and death; endangering lives; physically abusing individuals; sex trafficking
Private security contractors have become the fastest-growing sector of the global economy during the last decade- a $100-billion-a-year, nearly unregulated industry. DynCorp, one of the providers of these mercenary services, demonstrates the industry’s power and potential to abuse human rights.
While guarding Afghani statesmen and African oil fields, training Iraqi police forces, eradicating Colombian coca plants, and protecting business interests in hurricane-devastated New Orleans, these hired guns bolster the security of governments and organizations at the expense of many people’s human rights. DynCorp’s fumigation of coca crops along the Colombian-Ecuadorian border led Ecuadorian peasants to sue DynCorp in 2001.
Plaintiffs argued that DynCorp knew-or should have known- that the herbicides were highly toxic, and should therefore be held accountable for health problems and death among local people and widespread environmental damage to their subsistence agriculture. A Colombian newsweekly called DynCorp‚which also sprays herbicides in Peru and Bolivia‚ “lawless Rambos.”
DynCorp’s questionable actions in Haiti include its training of the national police force after the first coup against President Aristide, paving the way for (Tonton Macaoutes) to return to power.
In 2001, a mechanic with DynCorp blew the whistle on DynCorp employees in Bosnia for rape and trading girls as young as 12 into sex slavery. According to a lawsuit filed by the mechanic, “employees and supervisors were engaging in perverse, illegal and inhumane behavior [and] were purchasing illegal weapons, women, [and] forged passports.”
The mechanic observed DynCorp employees buying and selling women and bragging about the ages and talents of their female slaves. DynCorp fired the whistleblower, who later claimed that “DynCorp is just as immoral and elite as possible, and any rule they can break they do.” The company transferred the employees accused of sex trading out of the country, eventually firing some. None were prosecuted.
Who’s working on it:
• International Labor Rights Fund
Felda Global Ventures
CEO: Mohd Emir Mavani Abdullah
Menara Felda, Platinum Park, No. 11,
Persiaran KLCC, 50088
Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia
Abuses: Violation of basic worker and human rights, withholding worker pay, wage manipulation, insufficient screening of work contractors company is affiliated with, use of toxic pesticides
Felda Global Ventures Holdings is a semi-autonomous agricultural and agri-commodities corporation founded by the Malaysian government. Felda specializes in the production of oil palm, rubber, soybean, canola oils, oleochemicals and sugar products. Measured by planted acreage, the multinational company is the third largest cultivator of palm oil in the world. Felda controls over 850,000 hectares of land devoted to palm oil plantations, leasing to and managing approximately 500,000 hectares of said amount for Felda smallholders. Felda has been a partner of the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil – the RSPO is a certification scheme designed to ensure sound environmental and social business practices in regards to the cultivation of palm oil – since 2004. Presently, just over 300,000 hectares of Felda’s plantations are RSPO certified, however the company has set itself a public commitment of certifying all its oil palm plantations by 2017 (so far, it has been on target for this goal). Among the more salient regulations of the RSPO are that all plantation workers must have adequate training, worksite protection and be paid a living wage (which is left to the discretion of local authorities). Felda appears dedicated to maintaining its position as a RSPO member in good standing: in a recent public memo, company CEO Mohammed Emir Mavani reiterated the importance of “[contributing] to the continued development of the [RSPO] standard” for Felda.
However, this claim appears contradictory in the face of a recent undercover report by the Wall Street Journal that uncovered massive human-rights abuses among foreigners employed at Felda’s plantations in Malaysia – some 85% of Felda’s work force is made up of foreign workers. Faced with little perspective of work or advancement opportunities at home, as many as 50,000 undocumented workers from developing countries like Bangladesh and Myanmar have entered Malaysia during the past two years to work in the country’s booming palm oil industry which is in need of unskilled labour. Many of these workers are smuggled into the country under unsafe and dangerous conditions by human traffickers who frequently disregard or even openly violate their most basic human rights. Unfortunately, the government of Malaysia has made insufficient efforts to control human trafficking across its borders, subjecting it to heavy criticism from the international community: the U.S. State Department, for instance, placed Malaysia at the lowest rank (Tier 3) in its annual Trafficking in Persons Report for 2014. Incidentally, the same institution recently moved the country up to Tier 2 status to meet Trans-Pacific Partnership requirements despite heavy criticism from Congress and humanitarian groups.
Upon arriving in Malaysia, the trafficked workers are given over to contractors who often confiscate their passports as a way of leveraging authority over them, leaving the workers undocumented. According to the report, such workers are then relocated to camps isolated in the rainforest where they are “provided” with shelter (cramped huts) in squalid living conditions. The relative isolation ensures workers are removed from stores or other facilities where they could use any money they potentially make to purchase goods at market prices. Instead, workers must purchase foodstuff and other essential goods from the contractors at their camp who set artificially (and often arbitrary) inflated prices on said goods to put the workers in debt and exercise further control over them. To make matters worse, contractors may withhold wages from workers: one worker interviewed for the report claimed he had not received any pay from his contractors since arriving in Malaysia over half a year ago, despite having worked seven days a week. These injustices are tolerated by the workers for fear of being reported to the police or even physically abused back at the camp by their contractors.
Regardless of such blatant violations of basic labor and human rights, the report found Felda had sourced workers on its plantations from such abhorrent contractors. Although it is unclear whether the workers interviewed for the report were employed at one of Felda’s RSPO-certified plantations, RSPO rules clearly state that member companies cannot have major non-compliances with RSPO’s principles and criteria anywhere in their operations, including on non-certified plantations. In response to these allegations, the company stated that it is working to employ a larger part of its workforce directly.
Indeed, those workers who are directly employed by Felda typically enjoy more entrenched worker rights than their migrant counterparts, such as the Malaysian minimum wage. However, to qualify for these benefits, workers must meet a monthly company quota of working at least 26 days a month. Workers interviewed by the Wall Street Journal complained that their supervisors sometimes refused to give them enough work time to meet the required threshold, thus deliberately depriving them of worker benefits. Assuming the workers’ claims are true, this is a clear violation of Malaysian law that requires plantations provide enough hours for full-time workers to make minimum wage, that is 900 ringgit or about $240 per month. Some of the workers (a few of these held legal documents) went on record stating that their pay was often below the minimum. Per the report, the Wall Street Journal reviewed a number of recent pay slips bearing Felda’s name that showed monthly payments of only 700 to 800 ringgit (between approximately 170-190 USD) being issued to workers.
Furthermore, Felda doesn’t appear keen on supporting other fundamental worker benefits such as worker’s compensation: several workers (including those directly employed by Felda) said they hadn’t been given compensation when accidents occurred on-site at their plantations. In place of this, the company provided for some medical care, but ultimately left workers to pay for much of the medical expenses incurred, out of pocket. The final and perhaps most gross violation against workers occurring on Felda’s plantations involves the use of the herbicide Paraquat. Paraquat is highly toxic to humans and can damage major organs or even prove fatal to people at certain doses. Moreover, there is mounting evidence that extended exposure to it may contribute to the development of Parkinson’s disease. Consequently, the product is banned across the European Union, Switzerland, and a handful of countries in Africa and Southeast Asian.
In light of these facts, it is particularly unsettling that Felda makes no credible attempt to explain why it resorts to using such a toxic pesticide as part of its plantation operations or why it allows workers to administer it to crops. Instead, the corporation matter-of-factly asserts that it uses Paraquat “under specific conditions where regular herbicide is not able to give effective control.” The human cost of Felda’s unsavoury business practices reveals the company’s use of Paraquat to be savage to workers: a worker issuing a statement for the Wall Street Journal’s report revealed he got protective gear to handle the herbicide but no training and that handling the chemical made his head spin. What’s more is that others working on Felda’s plantations said their contractors didn’t bother to provide them with either gear or training, instructing them instead to buy their own protective gear if they so pleased.
Working On It:
Federasi Serikat Perkerja Minamas, Finnwatch, Firestone Agricultural Workers Union of Liberia, Forest Peoples Programme, General Agriculture and Allied Workers Union of Liberia, Humanity United, HUTAN, Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility, International Labor Rights Forum, Land Empowerment Animals People, Link-AR Borneo, MONDIAAL-FNV, Malaysian Palm Oil NGO Coalition, OPPUK, Oxfam, Pesticide Action Network Asia and the Pacific, Rainforest Action Network, Sabah Environmental Protection Association, Sawit Watch, SERBUNDO, Serikat Buruh Medan Independen, Serikat Buruh Mandiri Indonesia, Tenaganita, Trade Union Care Center, Verité, and Walk Free, as well as advisory support from CERES.
President: Joseph S. Blatter
FIFA Development Office USA:
1800 Purdy Ave
Miami Beach, FL 33139
Phone: (786) 453-2125
Abuses: forced evictions from homes and stores; damaging local business; tax evasion; labor abuse; corruption; violating human rights including: right to adequate housing, right to free movement, right to work, right to protest, and right to labor protection
Headquartered in Zurich, Switzerland, FIFA (the world governing body for international soccer) claims to be a non-profit organization and is tax exempt, yet in 2012 the company reported $89 million in net profit and $1.378 billion in financial reserves. FIFA is guilty of numerous violations of human rights including the right to adequate housing, right to free movement, right to work, and right to protest. Additionally, FIFA is guilty of profiting off of forced evictions and labor abuses.
FIFA’s claim to be a non-profit organization is undermined by billion dollar revenues and strict demands on World Cup host countries for FIFA and its corporate sponsors to remain exempt from any and all local tax laws. The Brazilian government spent $14 billion of taxpayer money on the 2014 World Cup in the face of poverty and inequality while FIFA took home $4 billion in untaxed revenue. Because FIFA is exempt from paying taxes, Brazil was deprived of revenues equating to $400 million from the 2014 World Cup.
For World Cup tournaments, FIFA demands exclusive “economic zones” encompassing a 2km radius around stadiums, in which only FIFA and its corporate sponsors retain the exclusive right to sell products and services, casting aside small businesses and vendors. These small vendors have set up around local games for generations, and are now kept from the benefits of World Cup business opportunities. Meanwhile, during the 2014 World Cup, the government of Brazil, in keeping with FIFA’s interest, used heavy police force to suppress peaceful anti-World Cup and anti-FIFA protests, as well as occupied favelas (low-income communities) near stadiums to “ensure safety.”
FIFA directly profited off the forced removals of more than 200,000 people (mostly low-income) from their homes in Brazil in the lead up to the 2014 World Cup. People were forced out of the communities where they have lived for generations, which is illegal under international human rights law. Families were evicted with little to no dialogue, compensation, alternative housing, or access to assistance.
FIFA also directly profited off the deaths of nine Brazilian construction workers who died in the frenzied rush to finish construction of World Cup stadiums meeting FIFA’s strict standards. FIFA justifies its actions by explaining the “urgency” of infrastructure projects and claims that its efforts generate profits for society. However, the poor take most of the burden from the negative effects of the World Cup, with many losing both their homes and their sources of income.
FIFA continues to ignore underlying social issues in World Cup host countries. There is already widespread outrage at the choice of awarding the 2022 World Cup to Qatar, which is virtually a slave labor state. Hundreds of migrant workers have already died in World Cup related construction and thousands more abused. FIFA claims they are not responsible for protecting Qatar’s migrant workers. There is also an ongoing investigation into credible allegations that Qatar paid off FIFA officials with millions of dollars worth of bribes to secure the bid. The 2014 World Cup in Brazil was the most expensive to date at $14 billion, but the Qatar 2022 World Cup is already projected to cost up to $100 billion.
FIFA has no accountability, no transparency, and no third-party oversight, resulting in widespread corruption, fraud, and lack of responsibility. It continually denies its connection to human rights violations, regardless of its promise to leave behind a positive legacy. Host countries are often led to believe they will prosper from World Cup opportunities but in reality countries see little economic benefit, instead becoming the victim of exploitation.
Working On It:
- Global Exchange
- Global Campaign to Dismantle Corporate Power
- Amnesty International
- International Labor Rights Forum
- Public Eye
- Institute for Policy Studies
FORD MOTOR COMPANY
CEO: William Clay Ford, Jr.
Contact the Corporation:
Ford Motor Company
P.O. Box 685 Dearborn, MI 48126-0685
Human rights violations: environmental degradation, climate change, fueling wars for oil
The US automobile industry is fueling America’s addiction to oil. Automobiles are the single largest consumer of oil in the US, a country that constitutes less than five percent of the world’s population but consumes 25 percent of its oil. The US addiction to oil is linked with a host of human rights and environmental problems, including human rights abuses in countries such as Nigeria, Ecuador, Sudan, South Africa and Indonesia.
The US oil addiction has prompted the US government to cozy up to human rights violating governments such as that of Saudi Arabia. It has pushed indigenous people off their land and destroyed hundreds of thousands of acres of rainforests, which are home to half the planet and animal species on the planet. It has fueled wars for oil, such as the war in Iraq, which has so far caused the deaths of more than 2,100 US troops and an estimated 27,000 to 100,000 Iraqis.
It has polluted cities, endangering the health of millions of people who live in high-ozone communities and leading to hundreds of thousands of cases of childhood asthma. And, by being a major contributor to global warming, has increased the likelihood of extreme weather events like Hurricane Katrina, which killed at least 1,289 people. Among automakers, Ford Motor Company is the worst.
Every year since 1999, the US Environmental Protection Agency has ranked Ford cars, trucks and SUVs as having the worst overall fuel economy of any American automaker. Ford’s current car and truck fleet has a lower average fuel efficiency than the original Ford Model-T. Ford is also in last place when it comes to vehicle greenhouse gas emissions. According to a recent report by the Union of Concerned Scientists, Ford has “the absolute worst heat-trapping gas emissions performance of all the Big Six automakers.” In fact, if Ford were a country, it would be the 10th largest global warming polluter worldwide, behind Italy. Amazingly, despite the company’s recent greenwashing PR campaign, its record has actually worsened.
According to Ford’s own sustainability report, between 2003 and 2004, the company’s US fleet-wide fuel economy decreased and its CO2 emissions went up. Ford is also lobbying to prevent the U.S. and state governments from improving the situation: the company has lobbied against lawmakers’ efforts to increase fuel economy standards at the national level and is also involved in a lawsuit against California‚Äôs fuel economy standards.
Who’s working on it:
• Bluewater Action Network
• Energy Action
• Jumpstart Ford, a coalition of Global Exchange, Rainforest Action Network and the Ruckus Society
Chairman & CEO: Glenn K. Murphy
2 Folsom St.
San Francisco, CA 94105
Phone: (650) 952-4400
Abuses: refusal to sign “Accord of Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh,” refusal to compensate victims’ families, workers’ rights violations, unsafe building conditions
Gap Inc. owns various clothing companies including Athleta, Banana Republic, Gap, Old Navy, and Piperlime. The corporation is a top purchaser of Bangladeshi-made clothes, but it refuses to protect the workers in Bangladesh who supply the company’s merchandise. Four million people work in the $20 billion Bangladeshi garment industry, which continues to grow at the cost of human safety. Numerous safety disasters have occurred over the recent years in Bangladeshi clothing factories, yet Gap Inc. fails to take responsibility for its suppliers in Bangladesh and support better working conditions.
In November 2012, 111 people died in Dhaka, Bangladesh in a fire at the Tazreen Fashions factory, a Gap Inc. clothing supplier. In April 2013, the Rana Plaza factory collapse in Savar killed more than 1,100 people. And in October 2013, there was a fire at the Aswad Composite Mills factory also in Dhaka, killing 10 people and injuring dozens. The Aswad Composite Mills factory was a direct supplier of Gap Inc.
Gap has refused to take responsibility for the conditions of its subsidiaries and suppliers, or to compensate the families of workers who died or were injured at the Asward Composite Mills fire. In May 2014 at Gap Inc.’s annual shareholder meeting, protestors rallied to fight for protection of garment workers’ lives, yet Gap executives had no comment. In addition to refusing to compensate families, it refuses to sign the “Accord for Fire and Building Safety in Bangladesh,” a binding agreement to protect workers. Championed by the International Labor Rights Forum, this agreement with unions has been signed by over 100 global apparel brands that have agreed to take responsibility for safety in their supply chain.
The Accord demands that companies meet higher safety standards, requires third-party inspections, and agrees that retailers will contribute to funding for safety improvements in the supplier factories. By refusing to sign the Accord, Gap undermines this reform and is promoting a non-binding, corporate-controlled agreement called the “Alliance for Worker Safety.” Gap Inc. has brought other corporation giants with it including Walmart and Target. The program excludes workers and representatives of workers and exempts retail corporations from paying any money toward repairs and renovations of unsafe factories. Gap’s program is not legally enforceable, does not involve third-party inspection, and fails to protect the workers’ rights.
Without full participation of corporations like Gap Inc., violations of safety standards will persist in Bangladeshi factories. Buildings will continue to lack basic safety features including emergency exits, adequate staircases, and safe and modern electrical systems.
Prior to the recent tragedies, Gap Inc. has been a well known sweatshop company; workers in supplier factories that service Gap are forced to work unethically long hours for insufficient, poverty-level wages. Most workers make about $38 per month. According to Not For Sale’s Free2Work report, Gap Inc. fails to guarantee workers a living wage. As they did in the Rana Plaza incident, managers will order workers to stay in structurally unsafe buildings, knowingly putting peoples lives on the line. Factory workers cannot stand up for their rights because they fear the risk of losing their jobs or suffering violent punishment.
Working On It:
- Global Exchange
- International Labor Rights Forum
- Public Eye
- United Students Against Sweatshops
- GAP Death Traps
- Not For Sale
- Bangladesh Center for Worker Solidarity
Ghirardelli Chocolate Company
CEO: Martin E. Thompson VP of Quality Assurance: Steve Genzoli
1111 139th Ave
San Leandro, CA 94578
Phone: (800) 877-9338
Abuses: refusal to use Fair Trade labor and continual support of child labor; use of labor that violates human rights standards; creating environmental destruction and poverty
Ghirardelli Chocolate Company is a San Francisco-based company, but is now owned by Lindt & Sprungli, the Swiss chocolate and confectionery company. Ghirardelli has multiple stores in San Francisco, and numerous other locations around the United States.
The bulk of the chocolate industry is dependent on cocoa farms primarily located in West Africa. While these cocoa farms produce 40% of the world’s cocoa supply, there has been much concern about the industry’s use of forced child labor, human trafficking, and slavery for actual production. Children growing up in poverty are trafficked from neighboring countries to these cocoa farms where they are forced to work under dangerous conditions for little or no wages. Ghirardelli Chocolate does not use Fair Trade certified cocoa, the only way to guarantee that no child labor is used in the chocolate supply chain.
According to ratings released by Not For Sale’s Free2Work Project, Ghirardelli scores a C- overall and an F in the Worker Rights category. While Ghirardelli has a policy for supplier code of conduct that aligns with the principles of the ILO, the brand does not publish its supplier list. There is no transparency into Ghirardelli’s supply chain, and the company continually has not made efforts to make its cocoa beans traceable. None of their suppliers are monitored annually and the company does not ensure that workers are receiving a living wage. Since Ghirardelli will not release information about its cocoa suppliers, it is impossible to ensure that its chocolate is free from unfair labor practices.
While other major companies like Hershey’s have pledged to use Fair Trade certified chocolate, Ghirardelli does not have a system that ensures its cocoa has not been produced by child labor. In addition to ensuring fair payment for work and safety standards, Fair Trade ensures the payment of a social premium, which communities collectively choose how to use. Fair Trade allows marginalized farmers and craftspeople to earn fair wages and gain economic opportunity. Fair Trade certified farms meet higher social and environmental standards, improving communities and ensuring farmers a living wage. Fair Trade certification is a necessity to ensure that cocoa farmers are not exploited and children are not subjected to forced labor.
Working On It:
- Global Exchange
- International Labor Rights Forum
- Green America
- Fair Trade Federation
- Fair Trade USA
- Not For Sale
Documentary Resource: The Dark Side of Chocolate
CEO: Ivan Glasenberg
Chairman: Anthony Hayward
Baarermattstrasse 3 CH-6340
Phone: +41 41 709 2000
Abuses: dumping of toxic tailings, tax evasion, police brutality, destruction of communities, human rights violations, environmental degradation
Glencore Xstrata is the world’s largest diversified trader in commodities including coal, oil, copper, zinc, lead, aluminum, metal alloys, grains, and oilseeds. The corporation started as a commodity trader, and is now a mining and oil production company. Glencore Xstrata is violating the social, cultural, and political rights of communities and destroying the environment.
In general, tailings (mine-processing wastes) contain three dozen dangerous chemicals including arsenic, lead, mercury, and cyanide. Dumping of tailings (generally into water sources) threatens drinking water, food supply, health of communities, aquatic life, and ecosystems. Glencore Xstrata’s mining activities are forcing indigenous people from their homes, separating communities, polluting water, destroying land, and corrupting authorities. The corporation enters communities, violates human rights, damages the environment, and also evades taxes. Glencore Xstrata’s continued tax evasion deprives suffering countries from needed income and steals vital natural resources.
Many communities are facing challenges created by Glencore Xstrata mines, especially in countries in the Global South including Bolivia, Argentina, Columbia, Chile, the Philippines, Peru and the Democratic Republic of Congo (DRC). In Bolivia, water and air pollution is threatening the health and livelihood of local communities. In Argentina, intense environmental pollution is causing incessant infringement of the laws. Multiple legal proceedings have been brought against Glencore Xstrata. In Colombia, the corporation is facing disciplinary proceeding before the national Authority of Environmental Licenses.
In Chile, a Glencore Xstrata subsidiary is building a hydroelectric project that will dam the Rio Cuervo River in the Patagonia region. Communities are very concerned about the negative affects this project will have on their homes, livelihood, and the environment. Additionally in the Philippines, indigenous people’s right to Free, Prior and Informed Consent has been violated. Through Glencore Xstrata’s Tampakan Cooper-Gold Project, 5000 indigenous people in the Philippines are being forcibly displaced, water sources are being threatened, and pristine forests are being destroyed. The corporation relies on police and soldiers which have exhibited excessive force: in October 2012, a soldier killed an indigenous woman and her two sons who were a part of a group that opposes the Tampakan project.
Glencore Xstrata faces resistance for its mining activities. However, people who protest and fight back are intimidated, threatened, and even criminalized. The company has close connections with state police who are employed to suppress demonstrations. Police brutality toward protestors is especially severe in Peru. In 2012 when police were forcibly restraining a protest against the Tintaya Mine, 3 died and 45 were injured. People are arrested on unsubstantiated charges. Additionally, community leaders in Espinar, Peru (where the Tintaya Mine is located) are often arrested for fighting for human rights.
Glencore Xstrata continually manipulates public knowledge and claims to generate economic value for local communities. In reality, tax evasion and corrupt practices are keeping mining countries from the benefits of their natural resources. In the DRC, Glencore Xstrata’s CEO Ivan Glasenberg told shareholders “to get products to the gate as cheaply as possible.” It is the corporations focus to gain as many profits as possible, without consideration of communities and human rights.
Glencore Xstrata transfers profits to tax havens and continually steals from the communities. These practices negatively affect communities and additionally Glencore Xstrata refuses to aid communities that are displaced from their homes.
Working On It:
- Natural Resources Defense Council
- United Front of Espinar Interests (FUDIE)
- No Dirty Gold
- Mining Watch Canada
- Public Eye
Chairmain: David J. Lesar
Contact the company:
3000 North Sam Houston Parkway East
Houston, TX 77032
Phone: +1 (281) 871-2699
Fax: +1 (302) 655-5049
Abuses: hydraulic fracturing, involvement in the Gulf spill, bribery in Nigeria
Halliburton is an oilfield services company, dealing with the finding and producing of oil. Halliburton is condemned for its involvement in hydraulic fracturing, also deemed fracking, in which they inject millions of gallons of water, sand and chemicals at extremely high pressures in order to make cracks in rocks and allow gas to flow. They access these unconventional oil sources by horizontal fracking, using 1 to 8 million gallons of water in each well.
Halliburton says fracking is safe, citing that impermeable rock layers prevent toxic chemicals and water waste from getting into soil and water. These claims, nevertheless, have proved false as cracks and leaks have caused harmful substances to get into soils and drinking water sources. Methane leaking from these cracks and the overall process make, some claim, fracking the most greenhouse gas intensive form of energy (or on par with coal).
Currently, the Delaware River, a water source for over 15 million people, is at risk to be contaminated from fracking as Halliburton and other companies are looking to use thousands of surrounding acres for gas wells. The Bush and Cheney Energy Bill, passed by congress in 2005, contains what many refer to as the Halliburton Loop Hill, exempting hydraulic fracturing from regulation by the Safe Drinking Water Act and allowing Halliburton to conceal the chemicals it uses in fracking.
Contamination of water sources commonly occurs from faulty cement in wells that cause leaks, an error BP claims was a factor in the Gulf spill. On September 8, 2011, BP released a report looking at the Deepwater Horizon Incident claiming Halliburton’s faulty cement was to blame for the spill. Further investigations by the National Commission on the BP Deepwater Horizon Oil Spill and Offshore Drilling found that Halliburton was also responsible for the massive oil spill, as the cement made by Halliburton caused hydrocarbons to leak into BP’s oil well, resulting in the explosion that started the crisis. BP is now ordering Halliburton to pay for the spill.
Halliburton was also involved in bribing officials in Nigeria. In December 2010, the Nigerian government filed corruption charges against Halliburton and former vice president and CEO of Halliburton Dick Cheney based on a 182 million dollar contract to build a gas plant in Southern Nigeria. Two weeks after the allegations, Cheney and Halliburton settled with the country for 250 million dollars.
Who’s working on it:
• Documentary Resource: Gasland
CEO: Bruce Wrobel
277 Park Avenue, 40th floor
New York, NY 10172
Many multi national agribusinesses boast of the positive effects that business will generate in “marginal lands” in countries around the world. However, little concern is paid to the negative consequences agribusinesses have for the livelihoods of indigenous communities and the health of the environment. Herakles Farms is one such agribusiness that claims to create large-scale sustainable agricultural projects in Africa. However, Herakles Farms’ activity in Africa has proved to be more detrimental to the nation than sustainable. In Cameroon, Herakles Farms has taken steps to spearhead the production of palm oil. Doing so creates major deforestation and threatens the livelihoods of the community who rely on farming for their daily needs. Herakles Farms has also inaccurately reported on its Environmental and Social Impact Assessment (ESIA). Herakles Farms says that only 14,000 people inhabit the area proposed for palm oil, however several non-governmental organizations report that the number of potentially affected people is upwards of 45,000. The company has also failed to mention that thousands of small-scale farmers would have their lands taken, without any mention of a compensation plan. Only broad statements have been made by Herakles Farms that express that displaced farmers will have opportunities for employment without any details regarding how this conclusion was reached or what villagers would be employed to do. There is also little mention involving the amount of chemicals being used as pesticides and fertilizers, which can potentially contaminate the water sources that can endanger the fish populations as well as potable water.
According foodfirst.org, various Cameroonian non-governmental organizations have reported in 2012 that Cameroon spends approximately 30 percent of its GDP on imported food. However, by investing more in locally produced agriculture, this cost could be dramatically reduced. Economies in Africa can improve substantially without the intervention of agribusiness that in fact work to cripple sovereign nations from self-determination and indigenous rights to land and production.
Working On It:
Resource: The Herakles Debacle (film)
The Hershey Company
CEO: John P. Bilbrey
100 Crystal A Drive
Hershey, PA 17033
Phone: +1 (717) 534-4200
Fax: +1 (717) 534-7873
Abuses: refusing to use fair trade labor and continuing to support labor that violates human rights standards
The maker of Reeses, Kit Kats and Almond Joys has not made efforts to improve the exploitation of its workers that continues in West Africa. Chocolate is an industry dependent on cheap and forced child labor on cocoa farms in the Cote D’Ivoire and the Ivory Coast, which produces 40% of the global supply of cocoa. According to the US Department of Labor, West African cocoa farms employ children, as young as 12 – 14 years old, who have been trafficked from neighboring countries. They are often lured by traffickers with the promise of earning a much-needed income or are kidnapped from their villages. Few are actually paid salaries and many continue to work to avoid violent punishment.
In these regions, poor communities depend on the cocoa industry for income, and most workers are therefore forced to comply with unfair labor practices. While other major companies like Kraft have made efforts to increase their purchase of fair trade certified cocoa, Hershey does not have a system that ensures its cocoa has not been produced by child labor. Hershey will not release information about its cocoa suppliers, which makes it impossible to ensure that its chocolate is free from unfair labor practices.
In 2012 Hershey announced that two of its products, Bliss and Dagoba, a small portion of their product mix, will be certified by Rainforest Alliance in order to deal with complaints of forced child labor in their supply chain. They also claim to be taking action to increase yields through farmer education in order to increase income to cocoa farmers and that they support children’s programs in the US and West Africa. They still do not support policies to stop child labor. While 60 companies and organizations have signed a statement called the “Commitment to Ethical Cocoa Sourcing: Abolishing Unfair Labor Practices and Addressing Their Root Causes,” Hershey has not. Hershey has refused to pay farmers a guaranteed fair wage, refused to make visible its supply chain down to the farm level, refused to support the enforcement of anti trafficking law, and refused to commit to sourcing from farms who operate based on ILO labor standards.
In addition, in August 2011, hundreds of student guestworkers working at a Hershey packing plant in Pennsylvania protested their exploitative working conditions. The students traveled to the US from all over the world to participate in the U.S. State Department’s cultural exchange program. Over 400 students paid between $3,000 and $6,000 each to recruiters for what they were convinced would be an experience of cultural exchange.
When they reached the US, however, they were put to work for Hershey and were forced to work long hours with limited pay, reportedly as little as $1/hour. Forced to live and pay rent in company housing, many students were unable to earn back the money they had paid for the program. When the students complained of conditions, they reported that they were intimidated with threats of deportation. This labor abuse has led to four federal investigations by three agencies.
The Harkin-Engel Protocol, a pact signed by major chocolate corporations including Hershey, to stop forced child labor by 2005, clearly has not yet been successful in ending abusive working conditions. Hershey especially needs to pay more attention to its labor policies and sourcing of cocoa in order to put an end to the exploitive labor that currently persists in West Africa.
Who’s working on it:
• Raise the Bar Hershey!
• Green America
• Interntational Labor Rights
• Documentary Resource: The Dark Side of Chocolate
CEO: Stuart Gulliver Chairman: Douglas Flint
452 5th Ave
New York, NY 10018
Phone: (212) 525-5000
Abuses: money laundering; financing conflict palm oil producers; destruction of land
HSBC is a leading global bank primarily involved in investment banking, originating from the United Kingdom and operating in over 85 countries. HSBC finances the production of palm oil as a financial backer and shareholder in companies like Sime Darby and Wilmar International. HSBC’s financial activity allows for land grabs and human rights violations in Malaysia, Indonesia, Liberia, and Uganda; in result these countries are facing severe land and environmental degradation including deforestation.
Production of conflict palm oil (an edible vegetable oil extracted from the pulp of palm fruit) is a world crisis causing extensive human rights violations and environmental degradation. HSBC’s financial assistance to palm oil producers like Wilmar is contributing to destruction of high conservation value land areas in Malaysia and Indonesia without approval of the local communities. People are being deprived of food and livelihood as they are forcibly evicted from the land where they have lived and worked for years.
HSBC is a signatory of the UN Global Compact, in which the bank agreed to principles surrounding human rights and environmental responsibility, yet it continues to violate human rights and degrade the environment. Additionally, HSBC has its own sustainability principles, but does not act on them, despite Willmar’s clear violations. Wilmar owns palm oil plantations and refineries in Indonesia, Malaysia, and Uganda. On Kalangala Island in Uganda, HSBC and Wilmar are responsible for the deforestation for 3,600 hectares, which has displaced farmers and families without compensation. Islanders are robbed of food, medicine, and livelihood. HSBC does not only loan money to Wilmar, but also has shares in the company.
Additionally, in 2012 HSBC was charged with cases of money laundering. In 2002 HSBC bought the Mexican bank Banco Internacional, S.A.; a review conducted before this purchase showed the bank did not have a functioning compliance program, but HSBC did not take preemptive action and tighten its anti-money laundering policies. According to the U.S. Senate’s Permanent Subcommittee on Investigations’ 2012 Report, HSBC is guilty of “a wide array of money laundering, drug trafficking, and terrorist financing.” Over the past decades, HSBC has funneled billions of dollars to drug lords, rogue nations, and even Saudi banks that are linked to terrorism. The Senate report says that HSBC had significant financial connections with Saudi Arabia’s Al Rajhi Bank, and evidence indicates that the bank’s founder was “an early financial benefactor of al Qaeda.” Additionally, HSBC’s Mexican affiliate channeled $7 billion into the U.S. between 2007 and 2008 through money laundering for Mexican drug cartels, according to the Senate report.
Despite HSBC’s criminal behavior, the Senate deemed the bank “too big to prosecute.” The bank and the executives involved in the laundering decisions were granted immunity and still remain in leadership at the corporation. The only punishment for its crimes was a $1.9 billion fine, which is equal to about one month of HSBC’s profits. Although the corporation was fined for its criminal behavior, the executives were granted immunity from being individually prosecuted. With immunity granted to the executives, HSBC continues to prevail and put profits before people, even if it means engaging in criminal activity.
Working On It:
KBR (KELLOGG, BROWN, AND ROOT)
President and CEO: Andrew Lane
Contact the Corporation:
KBR 601 Jefferson Street
Houston, TX 77002
Phone. (713) 753-2000
Abuses: Overcharging and providing unnecessary services on taxpayer’s dollar, bribery, exploiting third country nationals
KBR is a private company that provides military support services. Notorious for its questionable bookkeeping, dishonest billing practices, and no-bid contracts, KBR has violated human rights on the U.S. dollar. KBR provides key logistical support for war, occupation and unlawful detention.
The company provides the critical support services US troops need to be able to continue their occupation of Iraq. KBR also constructed the detention facility in Guantanamo Bay, where hundreds of detainees have languished for more than three years, many of whom have suffered abuse and torture. KBR‚Äôs dubious accounting in Iraq came to light in December 2003 when Pentagon auditors questioned possible overcharges for imported gasoline.
Former employees have testified about KBR‚Äôs billing for $100 laundry bags and $45 cases of soda, failing to provide simple mechanical parts such as oil filters, feeding soldiers outdated rations, and charging for meals never served. In June 2005, a previously secret Pentagon audit criticized $1.4 billion in “questioned” and “unsupported” expenditures.
However, given KBR’s history, this is no surprise. In 2002 the company paid $2 million to settle a Justice Department lawsuit that accused KBR of inflating contract prices at Fort Ord, California. In 2000, the GAO scrutinized KBR for overcharging and providing unnecessary services in the Balkans. Bribes to local officials (such as in Nigeria) or subcontractors also appear to be part of KBR’s modus operandi. Many third-country national (TCN) laborers have been hired by KBR to “rebuild” Iraq.
Generally hailing from impoverished Asian countries, they have unexpectedly become part of the largest civilian workforce ever hired in support of a U.S. war. An intricate network of subcontractors who recruit and employ most TCNs lowers the prime contractors’costs and hinders any oversight by contract auditors. The laborers often take out usurious loans to pay a finder’s fee for the overseas jobs.
Once abroad, the workers find themselves with few protections and uncertain legal status. TCNs often sleep in crowded trailers and wait outside in scorching heat to eat “slop.” Many lack adequate medical care and put in hard labor seven days a week, 10 hours or more a day. Few receive proper workplace safety equipment or adequate protection from incoming mortars and rockets. KBR is now accused of perpetuating the same system in areas destroyed or damaged by Hurricane Katrina. Reports have surfaced about KBR’s subcontractors exploiting TCN’s (this time, Latinos), many of whom are unpaid, unfed, living in squalid conditions and suffering from untreated ailments.
Who’s working on it:
• Center for Corporate Policy
• Halliburton Watch
• Houston Global Awareness
Chairman & CEO: Charles Koch
Executive VP: David H. Koch
4111 E 37th St N
Wichita, KS, 67220
Phone: (316) 828-5500
Abuses: thwarting public policy; forcing policies on funded politicians, judges, and organizations; working to destroy minimum wage, unions, and social security; re-segregation of public schools; toxic pollution
Koch Industries is one of the top 15 polluters in the U.S. and is responsible for up to 300 oil spills, while simultaneously working to eliminate workers rights, reduce protections and workers’ pay. Run by brothers Charles and David Koch, Koch Industries is an American multinational manufacturing, trading, and investments corporation based in Kansas. According to Forbes 2013, Koch Industries is the second largest privately held company in the United States. The corporation includes companies like Invista and Georgia-Pacific, and has many operations including manufacturing, refining and distribution of petroleum, chemical technology, fertilizers, paper, ranching, finance, and much more. While running this corporation, the Koch brothers use their profits to make significant political campaign contributions and thwart public policy by influencing Congress with money, ultimately using their wealth to become dominant players in shaping the country.
Charles and David Koch each make $1.8 billion dollars per hour, and they spend this money readily to serve their agenda. Their profits from Koch Industries fund politicians, judges, organizations, and universities with strings attached; the Koch brothers force their own principles and policies on the people and organizations they fund. The brothers gave $80 million to 85 organizations and over $57 million to over 150 colleges and universities. Koch-funded universities allow the Koch brothers to have excessive control over the universities’ internal affairs; universities are expected to give up values in exchange for money. After donating $1 million to The Catholic University in Washington D.C. to build a new Koch-influenced business school, university members protested as the Koch brothers agenda contradicted Catholic ethics and beliefs, and they refused to give up their values.
The Koch brothers actively use their money to to deny people’s rights. As some of the wealthiest individuals in the world, the Kochs continuously fight against the institution of minimum wage by funding the Fraser Institute. Charles and David Koch feel that public safeguards for workers rights create a culture of dependency. The brothers are also working to destroy unions and social security. Koch-funded Americans for Prosperity and American Lesislative Exchange Council (ALEC) have drafted anti-union legislation to stop collective bargaining rights for workers. The Koch brothers also fund think tanks and philanthropic organizations to distribute false information about the social security system being bankrupt.
In 2009, the Kochs tried to re-segregate the Wake County Public School System in North Carolina. The brothers took control of the state legislature by funding politicians, and also funded candidates for the school board. These politicians worked to dismantle the entire school system and change to “neighborhood schools,” ultimately segregating the community. This push toward privatization of the school system destroyed equal opportunity and was very damaging to the community.
Additionally, Koch Industries supports the Keystone XL pipeline to expand the tar sands, and dirty energy. While the corporation lobbies against environmental regulations like chemical safety rules, it severely pollutes the environment. In Crossett, Louisiana, Koch Industries’ pollution is allegedly causing lung cancer, and 11 have died. A Georgia Pacific Plant is dumping pollution into a huge channel full of various chemicals creating an open sewer line. This pollution is very harsh for breathing and causes soreness in the throat and pain in the eyes. The people who live in this community are breathing this polluted air and the community members are experiencing breathing complications and high rates of lung cancer. This kind of pollution is criminal and directly breaks laws made by the Clean Water Act. The Louisiana state representatives are heavily influenced by the Koch brothers, and Koch Industries is rarely caught for such pollution crimes. If caught, it pays the fines and continues to pollute.
Koch Industries puts profits above everything else, and persistently works to take a toll on democracy. The Koch brothers use their billions to knock down the middle class and stomp on the poor. As their wealth continues to grow, the Kochs continue to fuel inequality in America.
Working On It:
- Corporate Accountability International
- International Forum on Globalization
- Koch Cash
- Democracy NOW!
- Institute for Policy Studies
Documentary Resource: Koch Brothers Exposed: 2014 Edition by Brave New Films
CEO: Robert Stevens
Contact the corporation:
Lockheed Martin Corp
6801 Rockledge Dr
Bethesda, MD 20817
Phone: (301) 897-6000
Abuses: War profiteering, warmongering
Lockheed Martin is the world’s largest military contractor. In 2003, the year of the Iraq invasion, the company held $21.9 billion in Pentagon contracts. Providing satellites, planes, missiles, and other lethal high tech items to the Pentagon keeps the profits rolling in. Since 2000, the year Bush was elected, the company’s stock value has tripled.
A large company like Lockheed Martin has the ability to shape it‚Äôs the business environment, and marketing war is very beneficial to the bottom line. As the Center for Corporate Policy notes, it is no coincidence that Lockheed VP Bruce Jackson‚who helped draft the Republican foreign policy platform in 2000‚ is a key player at the Project for a New American Century, the intellectual incubator of the Iraq war. Lockheed Martin is not the only defense contractor that goes behind the scenes to influence public policy, but it is one of the worst.
Stephen J. Hadley, who now has Condoleeza Rice’s old job as Assistant to the President for National Security Affairs, was formerly a partner in a big DC law firm representing Lockheed Martin. He is only one of the beneficiaries of the so-called revolving door between the military industries and the “civilian” national security apparatus. These war profiteers- the makers of the Trident missile; aircraft like the F-16 Fighting Falcon and the F/A-22 and the C-130 Hercules, as well as high tech space based military components like the DSCS-3 satellite- have a profound and illegitimate influence our country’s international policy decisions.
Who’s working on it:
• Brandywine Peace Community
• Center for Corporate Policy
• War Resisters League
Chairman: Hugh Grant
800 N. Lindbergh Blvd
ST. LOUIS MO 63167
Phone: +1 (314) 694-1000
Fax: +1 (302) 636-5454
Abuses: for monocropping, involvement in government, refusing to label product, bankrupting small farms
Monsanto is, by far, the largest producer of genetically engineered seeds in the world, dominating 70% to 100% of the market for crops such as soy, cotton, wheat, and corn. The company is also one of the most egregious abusers of the human rights of food sovereignty, access to land, and health.
Monsanto promotes mono-culture—the practice of covering large swaths of land with a single crop. This practice pushes out subsistence farms and destroys arable land by drastically decreasing soil and water quality for years, draining soil of key nutrients. Mono-cropping also jeopardizes food security as farmers are rewarded with subsidies from the government for using only a select number of crops which are more susceptible to natural disasters and hurt the soil in which they are grown.
Further, the company, using free trade agreements, undercuts food prices by flooding countries like Mexico, India, and Brazil with cheap, genetically modified foods, resulting in the displacement of millions of farm workers, who are forced to migrate to cities or work as landless peasants or share croppers.
Monsanto is the world’s leading producer of the herbicide glyphosate, marketed as “Roundup.” Roundup is sold to small farmers as a pesticide, yet harms crops in the long run as the toxins accumulate in the soil. Plants eventually become infertile, forcing farmers to purchase genetically modified Roundup Ready Seed, a seed that resists the herbicide. This creates a cycle of dependency on Monsanto for both the weed killer and the only seed that can resist it. Both products are patented, and sold at inflated prices.
Roundup Ultra, a version of the pesticide that is unavailable on the commercial market, is regularly employed in fumigation of areas of illicit crop production. However, as it destroys fields of drug plants, it also destroys subsistence crops like banana, palm heart, and coffee. These despised weeds have also evolved to withstand Roundup, motivating farmers to supplement the herbicide with more chemicals. Exposure to the pesticide is documented to cause cancers, skin disorders, spontaneous abortions, premature births, and damage to the gastrointestinal and nervous systems. Monsanto also created seeds that contain Bt, the gene of a bacterial pesticide, so that the protective pesticide grows simultaneously with the crops. Like weeds, insects have evolved to avoid the pesticide, resulting in farmers seeing more rootworm harm to their crops.
Further, these genetically modified crops have not drastically improved the harvest, according to the report Failure to Yield done by UCS Doug Gurlan Sherman. Truly, GMOs have only brought profits to a select group of agrochemical companies, including Monsanto. Regardless of the success of GMOs, Monsanto refuses to allow products containing GMOs to be labeled. When Vermont declared it would start labeling GMO food, Monsanto immediately responded by threatening to sue the state.
Monsanto also forces farms to rely on its product. Monsanto uses terminator seeds, or seeds that are not reusable after one season of planting. Terminator seeds force farmers to rely on Monsato for an annual seed supply. Failure to comply with Monsanto and use their product can be a death sentence for a small farm. Monsanto eliminates small farms by suing, bankrupting the business either through a settlement or legal fees. Oakhurst Dairy, a family owned dairy farm in Maine, wanted to sell and label their milk rBGH free, a synthetic hormone produced by Monsanto. Monsanto sued, claiming Oakhurst could not notify customers their product was rBGH free, and ultimately coerced Oakhurst into settling outside of court. With large revenues, Monsanto clearly has the power to control farming, therefore giving it a monopoly on the agricultural industry.
Monsanto not only uses courts to control small farms, but also has a strong voice within Washington. In January, February and March alone, Monsanto spent 1.4 million dollars on lobbying. Monsanto’s director of corporate communicates Phil Angell has also put forward the stance that it is the government’s job, not Monsanto’s, to decide the safety of its product: “Monsanto should not have to vouchsafe the safety of biotech food. Our interest is in selling as much of it as possible. Assuring its safety is the FDA’s job.”
Yet while it believes government should regulate the soundness of GMOs, many former Monsanto employees have a large influence on government policy. For example, Michael Taylor, former lawyer for Monsanto, was appointed to head of food safety for the Obama administration. Taylor was crucial in the decision to not require labeling for milk made with Monsanto’s artificial hormone.
According to the India Committee of the Netherlands and the International Labor Rights Fund, Monsanto also employs child labor. In India, an estimated 12,375 children work in cottonseed production for farmers paid by Indian and multinational seed companies, including Monsanto.
Who’s working on it:
• Millions Against Monsanto
• No Monsanto UK
• Occupy Monsanto
• Just Label It
• Organic Consumers Association
• Documentary Resource: Food Inc.
CEO and President: Steve Easterbrook
Oak Brook, IL 60523
Abuses: limited (and relatively non-transparent) environmental policies; unethical marketing to children; and lack of willingness to reform worker wages.
McDonald’s Corporation is a U.S.-based, multinational corporation operating 35,000 business outlets across 119 countries. The restaurant serves approximately 68 million customers daily and currently employs 1.9 million workers, making it the largest private employer in the world, after Walmart. The global presence the corporation has established via its franchise, affiliate, or corporate-owned restaurants provides it with an incredibly lucrative income stream: according to McDonald’s 2012 corporate income statement, the corporation racked in an annual revenue of $27.5 billion with profits of $5.5 billion.
McDonald’s has taken clear steps over the past few years to move in a more environmentally sustainable direction through such efforts as committing to maximize energy efficiency, using more “green” forms of energy, and committing to more sound sourcing practices of raw goods (such as animal, coffee, and vegetable products). While such trends ought to be celebrated as positive, the regulations guiding these trends often do not adequately address the environmental concerns they are associated with, are impartially applied across business outlets, and lack sufficient transparency to inform the public. Regarding energy use for instance, it is virtually impossible to gauge how effective McDonald’s’ energy policies have been in regards to lowering their carbon emissions, as the company has refused to publish their annual carbon footprint. In fact, in its “Environmental Protection” policy, McDonald’s has failed to set a target or any substantive plan to reduce carbon emissions. And while the company has invested in alternative means of meeting its energy needs such as solar panels and biodiesel, it remains unclear what percentage of their total energy use is green or what the total waste footprint from using these forms of energy is.
Another grey area surrounding McDonald’s’ environmental policies concerns its sourcing practices. Some of the commodities McDonald’s sources carry ethically certified labels from such organizations as Rainforest Alliance, Utz Kapeh, and the Marine Stewardship Council. However, the company does not practice ethical sourcing practices across all international markets equally: the Rainforest and UTZ certified coffee mentioned above for instance, is only sourced to markets in Europe and Asia Pacific. In other instances, beneficial policies that are applied to suppliers within the United States and Canada – a salient example concerns McDonald’s sourcing of potatoes where farmers must forego the use of pesticides for McDonald’s to purchase their goods – are not equal in other markets. Since data for other commodities such as cocoa and chocolate is even less forthcoming, it is impossible to verify how extensive (or limited) McDonald’s ethical sourcing policies are. However, the fact that the company has so far failed to report a full effectuation of using certified sustainable sources for other commodities such as beef, palm, oil and soy may be telling.
The second greatest source of controversy surrounding McDonald’s relates to the company’s use of advertising targeting children. Despite heavy criticism levied against it for engaging in such practices from parents and consumer groups that claim the company manipulates children to engage in unhealthy nutrition decisions by fostering consumer preferences through ads aimed at aggregating brand loyalty, McDonald’s has stubbornly refused to reform its marketing policies. The company has typically countered such demands by insisting that the health of children ought to be the responsibility of parents, yet the degree and length of exposure to McDonald’s’ marketing for the average child make such points largely moot. McDonald’s targets children as young as two via web marketing off sophisticated websites such as Ronald.com or McWorld.com that feature up to 100 pages of advergames and virtual worlds. Conventional media airtime is also heavily saturated with ads targeting the child demographic: as early as 2009, the fast food industry spent over $4.2 billion dollars on advertising, resulting in the daily viewing of 2.8, 3.5, and 4.7 TV ads by the average preschooler, older child, and teen respectively. It is estimated that approximately a quarter of all of the aforementioned TV ads observed originated from McDonald’s. The company’s pervasive marketing within schools is also worrisome. Regardless of McDonald’s’ claims that Ronald McDonald’s presence at schools is “an example of local franchises helping the community”, the company’s true motives in doing so are PR-related at best and a particularly perverse way of strengthening brand loyalty at worst.
McDonald’s practices a lack of initiative to raise its workers’ minimum wage salaries to sufficiently allow them to afford basic living costs such as rent and groceries. According to economists, such “living wages” would amount to approximately $10.50 per hour and could easily be met by fast food chains like McDonald’s by having the company raise daily food prices by only 10 cents or the price of its $4 Big Mac by 5 cents. Under heavy pressure from striking workers and labor unions, on April 1, 2015 McDonald’s announced that it would raise its starting wage to at least 1 more dollar than the local minimum wage. While this certainly demonstrates an important step in the right direction for McDonald’s, it still raises starting wages by too little for too few employees to have any substantial effect. Specifically, the announced hike only affects those business outlets that are directly operated by the company – this leaves out all workers employed at its franchises, currently amounting to 90% of total McDonald’s restaurants in the United States. Moreover, the hike would bring the average hourly wage of McDonald’s workers from $9.01 an hour, up to a projected $9.90 an hour: an amount that, while an improvement, would still be insufficient to allow McDonald’s workers to make ends meet.
To make matters worse, McDonald’s has invested large amounts of money into funding the National Restaurant Association (which it is a member of) to perfidiously further its interests in keeping workers’ wages from rising above minimum wage. The “other” NRA is a powerful lobby group that fronts as a “mom and pop” restaurant industry interest group while fundamentally representing the interests of such large food corporations as McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and Starbucks. Historically, the NRA has lobbied against laws that would implement menu labeling, soda taxes, trans fat bans, and lowering sodium levels at restaurants.
More recently, the NRA has been preemptively lobbying states from passing local laws that would require employers to grant earned paid sick leave to employees and, more saliently, state-wide regulations that would increase restaurant workers’ minimum wage. Unfortunately, the NRA’s lobbying efforts have been quite effective both in-state and federally: in 2013, the NRA had stopped 27 out of 29 states from following through with proposed minimum wage increases and it has successfully kept Congress from raising the minimum wage above $7.25 an hour – coincidentally, the last increase of the minimum wage was in 2007 when it was raised from a paltry $5.15 an hour (where it had previously remained for a decade). To keep politicians from forcing companies like McDonald’s to increase worker wages, the NRA typically argues that wage increases would result in the loss of entry-level restaurant jobs, however for reasons discussed earlier, this issue could be resolved relatively simply. The NRA also works hard to maintain the paradigm of the fast-food industry as one that employs mostly teenagers in their first jobs, thus justifying continued inaction on raising worker wages. However, the reality is that the majority of workers at places like McDonald’s are adults with families to support. In fact, salaries at such institutions are so low that the average restaurant employee is three times as likely to live below the poverty line as other workers in the American workforce and uses food stamps at twice the average rate.
Working On It:
Corporate Accountability International
Center for Media and Democracy
CEO: Joe Weller
800 N. Brand Blvd.
Glendale, CA 91203
Nestlé is well known for producing chocolate (not Fair Trade), but is in fact one of the world’s largest multinational food companies producing everything from frozen meals to infant formula. Nestle executives describe the company as the “world’s leading nutrition, health, and wellness company.” However, it remains one of the largest controversial businesses operating in the world. Nestlé has been criticized for pushing bottled water sales in developing nations, which is not only costly for communities, but deters governments from improving water sanitation efforts locally. Similarly Nestlé has been accused of marketing infant formula to new mothers in Turkey claiming that breast milk is insufficient for infant health. Since the advertising campaign, Nestlé infant formula sales increased 15% this year. These are just some of the many examples of Nestlé’s poor practices. Profit maximization comes at a higher priority than the “nutrition, health and wellness” of the people Nestlé markets to.
Nestlé has been on Global Exchange’s list in the past for its child forced labor practice in the cocoa fields of the Ivory Coast. This year Nestle has been included on the list to follow up on the issue.
The economic challenges of corporate globalization put children at risk as corporate profit will seek out the lowest wage for compensation and poverty and need sometimes force children into the workforce. Cocoa operations in the Ivory Coast under Nestlé have been under scrutiny for years as child labor is known to be a common practice. The company’s operations in Africa have been greatly tarnished by the press due to documentary footage of child laborers in the region. In response Nestlé took steps to meet these challenges, but these efforts are insufficient in ensuring child safety and decent wages for its laborers.
Nestlé had devised the Nestle Cocoa Plan to improve the lives of locals and cocoa farmers. The plan outlines that 40 schools will be built in Ivory Coast and that 1 million higher yielding cocoa trees will be provided to farmers. However, the greater number of schools and better producing trees does not equate to a decrease in child labor. In fact children would have already been attending school if not for the financial need to work in the cocoa fields. Additionally, children trafficked into harvesting cocoa will be unable to reap the benefits of proposed schools. Many parents are working for miniscule wages unfit for a family to live off of. Child labor could be dramatically curbed if adult cocoa field workers were paid a livable wage, and the Nestlé Cocoa Plan makes no such promises..
Who’s working on it:
• Global Exchange
• International Baby Milk Action
• International Labor Rights Fund
Resources: The Dark Side of Chocolate
Food Empowerment Project
CEO: Mark Parker
Chairman: Phillip Knight
Nike Inc. Phone: 1-800-344-6453
1 Bowerman Drive
Beaverton, OR 97005-6453
Nike, one of the world’s leading producers of footwear, sporting goods, and apparel has come under major scrutiny for outsourcing labor to developing countries to exploit cheap labor and maximize profits since the mid 1990’s. Global Exchange has tracked and researched these abuses and in 2001 published, Still Waiting for Nike to Do It: Nike’s Labor Practices in three years since CEO Phil Knight’s speech to the National Press Club. The book covers all abuses of Nike sweatshops from inadequate wages and working hours to safety hazards and the inability to organize. This business model has tarnished Nike’s reputation dramatically and since then Nike’s public relations representatives and CEO have made numerous statements as to how it will improve their workers’ circumstances. Nike’s responsibility clause as stated on their website reads:
“We’ve spent more than 15 years working with contract factories on these issues [worker rights and protections, living conditions for workers, wages and the environmental impacts of manufacturing processes] setting high expectations for workers and the environment, providing training and tools to help factories meet those expectations, and assessing their performance.” –Nike.Inc. II. “How We Do Business”
Despite promises to make changes since the mid 90s, Nike continues to use the same business model that disenfranchises workers in countries with few to no labor regulations. In April of 2013, Nike was exposed for doing business with Daewoo International, one of the largest perpetrators of forced labor in Uzbekistan. According to laborrights.org workers under Daewoo International have been imprisoned, harassed, threatened, and tortured by the current Uzbek regime for speaking out against human rights abuses. 141 signatories have called upon Nike to withdraw its business dealings with Daewoo International. Human rights organization leaders have made bold statements toward Nike on this issue, urging the company to cut off ties with the company. Ruslan Nurullaev of AwarenessProjects.org stated, “…Nike’s decision to protect Daewoo sends a dangerous message to other companies and damages the efforts of Uzbek citizens who have risked their lives to bring justice to Uzbekistan’s cotton fields.” Uzbekistan human rights organizations have also come forward in protest of Nike. “Nike would apparently rather harbor companies in its supply chain that are profiting from human rights violations than help bring an end to Uzbekistan’s heinous forced labor system,” says Umida Niyazova, founder of the Uzbek-German Forum for Human Rights.
And as recently as May 29, 2013, the International Business Times reported that Cambodian workers in one of Nike’s factories staged demonstrations and strikes against the company, demanding a $14 per month pay increase to keep pace with rising transportation costs, rent, and health care in the country. At the time of the worker action, most workers were earning the $74/month minimum wage. The Cambodian police equipped with riot gear were instructed to remove 3,000 protesting workers and in the process injured 23.
Working on it:
- Team Sweat
- United Students Against Sweatshops
- Labour Behind the Label
- War on Want
- Global Exchange
- Sweatfree Communities
Nissin Foods Holdings Co., Ltd.
Osaka Head Office 1-1, 4 chome
Abuses: weakly defined palm oil sourcing practices; compliance in conflict palm oil-related human rights and environmental violations; absence of public commitment to protect environment from unsustainable expansion of palm oil plantations
Nissin Foods Holding Co. is a Japanese snack food manufacturing company headquartered in Osaka, Japan and one of the largest producers of instant ramen noodles in the world. The reported annual revenue of Nissin Foods was $3.7 billion in 2014, with approximately 8% of that amount generated in the United States. The company operates within the sixth largest instant noodle consumption market under California-based subsidiary ‘Top Ramen’. This packaged noodle product is estimated to contain up to 20% palm oil.
Due to changes in U.S. food labeling laws for trans-fats, consumption of palm oil-rich products such as Nissin Food’s instant noodles has grown nearly six fold over the past decades with rapid expansion expected. Nissin Foods’ ongoing lack of commitment towards manufacturing its food products with responsibly sourced palm oil makes it one of the “Snack Food 20”, a group of the world’s largest companies identified by Rainforest Action Network with links to conflict palm oil.
Unlike more ethically-sourced responsible palm oil, conflict palm oil is produced and cultivated under conditions that may promote the destruction of rainforests and carbon-rich peatlands, violate human rights, fail to respect land rights of indigenous or forest-dependent communities, and utilize forced or even child labor. Perhaps the most striking difference between the two, however, is transparency: responsible palm oil is always produced legally and can be relatively easily traced back through the supply chain to the plantation where it was originally grown. This is seldom the case with conflict palm oil: since the cultivation of palm oil is a relatively lucrative business, palm oil producers have seized opportunities to set up operations in tropical developing countries such as Indonesia where favorable meteorological conditions and relatively little legal accountability allow them to reap profits despite “collateral” damage to the environment.
In order to set up palm oil plantations in such locations, palm oil producers must first clear-cut large swaths of forest, causing deforestation and inflicting massive damage to local ecosystems. The increasing demands for palm oil have resulted in the massive expansion of palm oil plantations in such regions with (unsurprisingly) rapid, concurrent declines of areas covered by rainforests: in Indonesia specifically, the area covered by palm oil plantations grew 600% while lowland rainforests in the area shrunk by 40% since 1990. Such trends threaten to drive already critically endangered species such as the Orangutan and Sumatran tiger to complete extinction. Accordingly, scientists have identified the production of conflict palm oils as “the greatest imminent threat to biodiversity in Southeast Asia”. Moreover, the unethical expansion of palm oil affect tens of millions of indigenous people across Indonesia and Malaysia, communities which rely on forests to sustain themselves and meet their needs for food, water, medicine, and timber.
To make matters worse, there have been over 3,000 conflicts registered by rural communities over land-related matters involving attempts by palm oil companies to illegally seize and privatize their land for use in palm oil plantations.
Forced captivity, deprivation of clean drinking water, withholding of workers’ wages, physical abuse and other serious human rights violations against foreigners (both adults and children) working on such plantations have also been documented.
Yet the most pressing issue surrounding the conflict palm oil is the destruction of carbon-rich, tropical peatlands. Since palm oil trees cannot grow on the waterlogged soil of peatlands, these lands must first be drained in order to make the land suitable for palm oil plantations. However, this process is extremely detrimental to the environment: in draining the peatlands, ancient peat becomes exposed to the air where it readily oxidizes as carbon emissions, often for decades. In fact, it is estimated that a single hectare of drained peat under palm oil emits over 4,000 tons of CO2 into the atmosphere over fifty years. At present, the U.S.’ and China’s heavy reliance on fossil fuels is the primary driver of global greenhouse gas emissions. However, the unregulated expansion of palm oil plantations has largely driven Indonesia to tail behind the U.S. and China as the third greatest polluter of CO2 in the world. With approximately 65% of the world’s peatlands spread out across Indonesia and some 70 billion tons of carbon stored beneath them, the continued sourcing of conflict palm oil by large corporations like Nissin Foods presents a clear threat to the biosphere and global efforts to curb climate change.
Due to the negative publicity surrounding conflict palm oil, Nissin Foods has publicly pledged to reach “a goal of utilizing 100% usage of sustainable palm oil starting with the USA by end of 2015.” Under this pledge, Nissin Foods has further promised to source palm oil from those growers that comply with relevant laws and regulations, use appropriate best practices, respect the human rights of their employees, and commit to environmental preservation.
Although this is a step in the right direction, there are several flaws in Nissin Foods’ commitment it must address in order to sufficiently meet the challenges of phasing out conflict palm oil from its products. The most salient of these is to publicly commit to using only responsible palm oil in its products. Nissin Food’s present commitment refers to the Roundtable on Sustainable Palm Oil’s (RSPO) working definition of “sustainable palm oil”. This is an important distinction, as certified RSPO-certified palm oil is still considered “sustainable” despite being potentially mixed with non-RSPO certified palm oil. Without explicitly committing to using only responsible palm oil, companies like Nissin Foods can claim to be sourcing palm oil sustainably while (intentionally or inadvertently) using palm oil in their products derived from producers complicit in human rights and environmental abuses. The absence of such a policy also reflects poorly on the company as it clouds transparency of their supply chains for consumers. Nissin Foods’ is currently also lacking any commitment towards promoting environmental protection; considering the substantial purchasing power it possesses, the Nissin Foods company could do much more in the way of ensuring that Indonesia’s rainforests, ecosystems, peatlands, and workers are better protected.
Working On It:
Rainforest Action Network
Chairman: Catherine McLeod-Seltzer
Pacific Rim Mining Corporation #1050,
625 Howe Street
Vancouver, BC V6C 2T6
Phone: +1 (604) 689-1976
Fax: +1 (604) 689-1978
Abuses: mining in El Salvador
The Canadian based mining company has had questionable involvement in El Salvador.
In 2002, Pacific Rim purchased a firm who held a permit to establish a huge gold mine in El Salvador’s main river, the Rio Lempa. Pacific Rim claimed its mining would not damage El Salvador’s environment, particularly its water source While it admitted that mining takes lots of water, Pacific Rim said it would use runoff water collected during heavy rain season for operation and would properly deal with excess water from mine production. Essentially, Pacific Rim boasted that is operations would provide numerous jobs while also being environmentally friendly.
The public, nevertheless, portray a different story of the mining’s effects. Not only are locals fearful of their quickly diminishing safe water source, they also are worried about the cyanide containing water Pacific Rim uses to separate gold from rock. Earthquakes that are common to the region are strong enough to split open rock and release this toxic fluid. The promised jobs were truly limited, and few residents had the skills to do the available work.
Further, a study by the International Union for the Conservation of Nature found that “[people] living near mining exploration activities began to notice environmental impacts from the mining exploration—reduced access to water, polluted waters, impacts to agriculture, and health issues.” Further, a 2007 national poll showed that 62.4% of El Salvadorians were opposed to the mining.
Pacific Rim has also been in question for the deaths and threats of anti mining activists. One vocal leader, Marcelo Rivera, who helped publicize the environmental injustices of Pacific Rim’s mining, was found dead and tortured in June 2009. Two other activists were murdered shortly after. While Pacific Rim has vehemently denied involvement in these deaths, others have claimed they received death threats from the corporation and bribery to campaign for Pacific Rim.
Recent efforts by El Salvadorians to eradicate mining from their country have landed them in an expensive, messy lawsuit. Pacific Rim has sued El Salvador 77 million dollars for its rights to mining under the Central American Free Trade Agreement (CAFTA), passed in 2005.
Who’s working on it:
• Massachusetts Jobs with Justice
• Caritas El Salvador
• Council of Canadians
• Friends of San Isidro Association (ASIC)
• Institute for Policy Studies (IPS)
• Mining Watch
• US-El Salvador Sister Cities
• The Comittee in Solidarity with the People of El Salvador (CISPES)
• Documentary Resource: Return to El Salvador
Chairman & CEO: Indra Nooyi
700 Anderson Hill Rd
Purchase, NY 10577
Phone: (914) 253-2000
Abuses: deforestation, destruction of peatlands, land grabs, species extinction, greenhouse gas emissions, commodification of water, use of GMOs and prevention of labeling GMO foods, labor-busting, and privatization of public services
PepsiCo does not simply produce soda drinks; it also owns dozens of other snack brands including Frito-Lay, Gatorade, Tropicana, and Quaker. PepsiCo also includes Lipton, Aquafina, Sabra Hummus, Naked Juice, and others. Many of these popular snack foods contain conflict palm oil.
According to Rainforest Action Network, PepsiCo uses more than 450,000 metric tons of conflict palm oil each year in its products. The production of conflict palm oil causes rainforest and peatland destruction, species extinction, greenhouse gas emissions, and human rights abuses.
Deforestation and destruction of peatlands (carbon-rich, wet ecosystems) for expansion of palm oil plantations are threatening irreplaceable ecosystems in Indonesia and Malaysia. At the current rate of destruction, 98% of Indonesia’s forest will be destroyed by 2022, according to the UN Environmental Program. Malaysia and Indonesia’s Borneo and Sumatra Rainforests are the only remaining rainforests where orangutans live. In addition to orangutans, Sumatran tigers and rhinoceroses are also facing extinction; there are only hundreds of these animals left in the wild. PepsiCo’s deforestation and destruction of peatlands is also contributing to global green house gas emissions.
While degrading the land and polluting the environment, PepsiCo is forcing local communities off their land. In Indonesia there are as many as 110 million indigenous people who depend on the forests, and many of these people are being displaced. Sawit Watch, an Indonesian organization that monitors palm oil production, reports that there are 663 ongoing land disputes between companies like PepsiCo and indigenous communities. These disputes often lead to the use of violent private armies, which has resulted in deaths.
Additionally, PepsiCo’s practices greatly deplete groundwater resources and pollutants degrade the quality of water in local communities. PepsiCo owns Aquafina, which produces bottled water, and contributes to the enormous amount of plastic waste and unsustainable depletion of groundwater supply caused by bottled water production.
PepsiCo’s practices include borad uses of genetically modified organisms (GMOs) in many of its food items including processed snacks, cereal, and even beverages like soda and juice. Not only does PepsiCo use GMOs, it also spent $2,485,400 in 2013 to fight against California’s Prop 37 to label GMO foods.
PepsiCo’s crimes are extensive and widespread, and the corporation continually does everything it can to put profits before people and the environment.
Working On It:
- Rainforest Action Network
- One Green Planet
- Food & Water Watch
- Organic Consumers Association
- Green America
- Institute for Policy Studies
- Sawit Watch
- GMO Inside
- Union of Concerned Scientists
PHILIP MORRIS USA and PHILIP MORRIS INTERNATIONAL
Chairman and CEO: Louis C. Camilleri
Contact the Corporation:
Philip Morris USA
Consumer Response Center
P.O. Box 26603
Richmond, Virginia 23261
Human Rights Abuse: aggressively marketing lethal products According to the World Health Organization, tobacco is the second major cause of preventable death in the world.
Nearly five million lives per year are claimed by the tobacco industry, whose products results in premature death for half the people who use them. Among tobacco companies, Philip Morris is notorious. Now called Altria, it is the world’s largest and most profitable cigarette corporation and maker of Marlboro, Virginia Slims, Parliament, Basic and many other brands of cigarettes. Philip Morris is also a leader in pushing smoking with young people around the world.
Philip Morris has consistently misled consumers about the dangers of its products. Documents uncovered in a lawsuit filed against the tobacco industry by the state of Minnesota showed that Philip Morris and other leading tobacco corporations knew very well of the dangers of tobacco products and the addictiveness of nicotine, yet they continued to deny these realities in public until the internal company documents were brought to light.
To this day, Philip Morris deceives consumers about the harm of its products by offering light, mild and low-tar cigarettes that give consumers the illusion that these brands are “healthier” than traditional cigarettes. Philip Morris has actively targeted the world’s youth by researching smoking patterns and attitudes and targeting youth as potential customers. Marlboro cigarettes are the top brand for youth in the United States.
Although the company says it doesn’t want kids to smoke, it spends millions of dollars every day marketing and promoting cigarettes to youth. Overseas, it has even hired underage Marlboro girls to distribute free cigarettes to other children and sponsored concerts where cigarettes were handed out to minors. As anti-tobacco campaigns and government regulations are slowing tobacco use in Western countries, Philip Morris has aggressively moved into developing country markets, where smoking and smoking-related deaths are on the rise.
According to a study by the Harvard School of Public Health, tobacco’s killing fields are shifting to the developing world and Eastern Europe, where most of the world’s smokers now live. Preliminary numbers released by the World Health Organization predict global deaths due to smoking-related illnesses will nearly double by 2020, with more than three-quarters of those deaths in the developing world.
Meanwhile, Philip Morris’ profits continue to grow. In the third quarter of 2005 alone, Altria’s net revenue was $25 billion, up from 2004 in large part due to the high performance of Philip Morris USA and Philip Morris International.
Who’s working on it:
• Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids
• Essential Action
• Framework Convention Alliance
• World Health Organization
CEO: Henry A. McKinnell
Contact the Company:
Pfizer 235 East 42nd Street
NY, NY 10017-5755
Phone: 212-573-1000 (switchboard)
Human Rights Abuse: Killer price-gouging
Pfizer is one of the largest and most profitable pharmaceutical companies in the world with revenues of $52.5 billion in 2004. In addition to Viagra, Zoloft, Zithromax, and Norvasc, Pfizer produces the HIV/AIDS-related drugs Rescriptor, Viracept and Diflucan (fluconazole).
Like other drug companies, they sell these drugs at prices poor people cannot afford and aggressively fight efforts to make it easier for generic drugs to enter the market. They have even cut off drug shipments to Canadian pharmacies that sold Pfizer drugs to patients in the United States for costs more affordable than those offered in US pharmacies.
To ensure its profits, Pfizer invests heavily in US campaign contributions. Though it can’t seem to afford to offer life-saving drugs at affordable prices, it was able to scrounge up $544,900 for mostly Republican candidates in election cycle 2006 (still in progress) and $1,630,556 in the 2004 election cycle. Drug companies’ refusal to put human beings’ health ahead of their own greed and profits is especially deadly for people with HIV/AIDS.
AIDS killed 3.1 million people in 2004, a shocking death rate that could be greatly reduced if treatment was made available to people who right now cannot afford it. Pfizer and other drug companies have refused to grant generic licenses for HIV/AIDS drugs to countries like Brazil, South Africa, and the Dominican Republic, where patients are forced to pay $20 per weekly pill for drugs like fluconazole, though the average national wage is only $120 per month. Instead of helping eradicate the world’s worst pandemic in history, the World Trade Organization has made matters worse.
Beginning in 1995, the agreement on Trade-Related Aspects of Intellectual Property Rights (TRIPS) protected companies by stopping WTO member countries from making generic versions of their drugs. Because of public pressure, the WTO announced a new agreement in 2003 to allow poor countries to access cheap generic antiretroviral drugs, but in practice, the drugs are just as inaccessible to poor countries as they were before.
Who’s working on it:
• ACTUP: New York, Philadelphia, Paris
• Consumer Project on Technology
• Doctors Without Borders
• Generics Now
• Health GAP
• Interfaith Center on Corporate Responsibility
• Treatment Action Campaign
CEO: Chung-Joon Yang
622 Sampyeong-Dong, Bundang-gu,
Seongnam-si, Kyeonggi-do, 463-400, Korea
In the quest for natural resources, it seems as though big business will stop at nothing to acquire raw materials for profiteering—even if it means violently exploiting indigenous peoples and jeopardizing their livelihoods. This is the case in POSCO’s activity in the Jagatsinghpur District of India. POSCO, a steel company based in South Korea, has aggressively pressured villagers in Orissa, India to vacate their farmland so the company can go forward with establishing a steel plant and a private seaport there.
The repercussions that POSCO’s project will create are enormous for Orissa. For one, POSCO will diminish the livelihoods of thousands of villagers who have cultivated the land for generations. POSCO’s project would potentially displace 22,000 people by seizing 4,000 acres of villager land. It would consequently affect 25,000 more people in surrounding villages that work and do business in the area.
The vast majority of villagers make their living cultivating and selling rice, coconuts, cashews, and the famous betel leaves that the region is known for. However POSCO has worked closely with the Indian government to coerce the villagers into surrendering their land to the business. The government systematically destroys betel leaf crops, fires rubber bullets at village protesters, and prevents the villagers from accessing medical care and education, among other injustices.
Secondly, POSCO plans to create a private port nearby the prospective steel plant although a port already exists there. POSCO’s private port would disenfranchise villagers, as the company is unlikely to hire anyone without technical education. The private port would also cut fishermen off from valuable coastline and cripple their industry.
Villagers have remained steadfast in non-violently resisting the harassment that POSCO affiliates and the government poses to them. Villagers have organized peaceful marches and sit-ins among other actions, but continue to struggle, as their ability to organize and make a living from farming is made more and more difficult by oppressive and coercive government policies.
The villagers have stood their ground since 2005, but it is essential that the international community be made aware of the grave injustice that is imposed on the villagers of Orissa so that greater pressure can be made against POSCO. The BBC reported on July 16, 2013 that POSCO has scrapped another steel mining plant in Karnataka due to inability to secure lands and the strong opposition from locals. However, the project is expected to proceed in Orissa.
Working on it:
For more info: “Dividends of Resistance”
The Ralph Lauren Corporation
650 Madison Ave C1
(212) 318-7000Abuses: Unsustainable sourcing of raw materials in viscose fibers; deforestation; environmental damage; human rights abuses; lack of consumer transparency; increasing CO2 footprint; cultural appropriation.The Ralph Lauren Corporation is a United States holding company based in New York City, NY. The company sells high-end apparel, accessories, and fragrances throughout the world in over 600 stores internationally. The company’s 2014 earnings are listed as $USD 7,450 million in the 2014 Annual Report. Unfortunately, it’s success as a producer of luxury goods overshadows the poor track record it has in relation to matters of environmental sustainability, human rights issues, and cultural-intellectual property rights.The central controversy surrounding Ralph Lauren concerns the impact of its business practices on the environment. Despite taking steps since 2002 to minimize carbon emissions such as investing in sustainable transport options and practicing energy efficient policies in their buildings, information compiled from company reports by consumer watchdog site Rank a Brand reveals that the Ralph Lauren actually increased its carbon footprint from 70,000 tons of CO2 in 2013 to 72,000 tons in 2014 (a total increase of 2%). To date, the company has not announced any targets to reduce carbon emissions produced by its own operations or instituted a policy to reduce greenhouse gas emissions generated by other actors involved in the product supply chain.Another major environmental issue that Ralph Lauren needs to address more sufficiently is the use of hazardous chemicals. In a recent investigative report released by Greenpeace titled Dirty Laundry: Hung out to Dry, Ralph Lauren was among many of the firms implicated in leaking a chemical called nonylphenol ethoxylate (NPE), used in clothing manufacturing, into waterways in the Philippines. The use of this chemical is troubling as NPEs readily break down in rivers to form toxic Nonyphenols, a bio-accumulative chemical with hormone-disruptive properties for many organisms. Moreover, the dangers of NPE pollution are not solely limited to water supplies in the direct vicinity of manufacturing plants. When consumers purchase clothing treated with NPEs and subsequently wash these items, harmful NPEs are released in their local waterways. Shockingly, following a test wash conducted as part of Greenpeace’s aforementioned investigation, a Ralph Lauren product was found to leak out approximately 94% of the total NPE it contained prior to being washed, into the environment.In addition, the Ralph Lauren’s business policies harm the environment by producing apparel using viscose (also known as rayon). Viscose is a synthetic (human-made) celluloid fiber that is sturdy, easily printed and dyed with bright colors, “breathes” actively and regulates temperature well. This versatility makes it an attractive material for use by textile companies. The problem with using viscose relates to how it is sourced. In order to give viscose its characteristic properties, it must be extracted from regular paper pulp via a complex chemical process involving sulfite – incidentally, one by-product of this procedure is the potentially toxic gas sulfur dioxide (SO2) – that turns the regular paper pulp into dissolvable paper pulp. Unfortunately, this process is incredibly inefficient: by the time raw trees are processed into dissolvable paper pulp, the relative yield of viscose is only a paltry 30% (ergo approximately 70% of each tree used in the production of viscose is wasted). Due to the low yield of viscose extraction, companies such as Ralph Lauren require a relatively large quantity of pulp to meet market demands and must therefore source resources from unethical pulp producers such as Toba Pulp Lester that typically resort to quick, unsustainable clear-cutting practices in sourcing trees.Apart from the obvious damage to the environment and local ecosystems caused by deforestation, the sourcing practices to produce viscose also have links to human rights abuses. Specifically, the expansion of large pulp plantations in Indonesia have had disastrous effects on indigenous and farming communities dependent on forests for their livelihood. For instance, there have been over 20 document cases of forcible land seizure and subsequent clear cutting by Ralph Lauren’s aforementioned business partner in Northern Sumatra.Ralph Lauren’s business practices have not only infringed on the rights of aboriginal populations in the developing world, but in North America as well. In a recent online ad, Ralph Lauren photoshopped a dress shirt from a clothing line over an historic picture of a Native American man. The ad drew angry responses from critics who deemed it “reduced their culture to mere marketing props”. Although Ralph Lauren issued a public apology and removed the ad shortly after the scandal, it drew further scrutiny from the community when a sweater was released ornamented with traditional Cowichan tribal art. The event caused another scandal leading many Salish First Nations people to decry the act as an act of intellectual property right violation and cultural appropriation.Working On It:
Rainforest Action Network
Shell/ Royal Dutch Petroleum
CEO: Peter Voser
Chairman: Jormin Ollila
Shell Energy North America:
1000 Main, 12th Floor
Houston, TX 77002
The Royal Dutch Shell Company has a legacy of extracting oil from the Niger Delta of Nigeria since 1958. Between 1990 and 1995, Shell, in collusion with the military government, financed the use of deadly force against the Ogoni people, who strongly protested Shell’s presence in the region due to the stark devastation the company had on the environment. The Delta Natural Resource Damage Assessment and Restoration Project deemed the Niger Delta as, “as one of the world’s most severely petroleum-impacted ecosystems.”
Twenty seven million people call the Niger Delta home, and of that number, 75% make their livelihoods with the environment, through farming and fishing for market or subsistence living. Because of Shell’s operations in the region, the Ogoni have become impoverished, as their lands have been co-opted by big business. Additionally, Shell engages in gas flaring, a byproduct of oil drilling, which harms the environment and people living in close proximity to it by contaminating the air with toxic fumes that then contaminate waterways through precipitation. These harmful chemicals are carcinogens that can induce convulsions, chromosomal damage, and birth defects. The World Bank has also stated that gas flaring has contributed to more greenhouse gas emissions than all other sources in sub-Saharan Africa combined. The Federal High Court of Nigeria has even condemned the use of gas flaring as a violation of human rights, yet Shell, among other oil companies, have continued gas flaring behind a slew of excuses.
The Ogoni have continually accused Shell of its damage against the environment and their people, yet Shell has done little to compensate them. The execution of activist Ken Saro Wiwa in 1995 brought international attention to Shell’s activities. The latest lawsuit involving Shell is Kiobel v. Royal Dutch Petroleum Company. Esther Kiobel, sought relief from Shell for crimes against humanity, torture, and extrajudicial executions of the Ogoni including the death of her husband, Dr. Barinem Kiobel. However, in 2010, the majority opinion of the lower court dismissed the lawsuit and found that the Alien Tort Statute (a statute that allows foreign plaintiffs to file suits in U.S. courts) would not be upheld. Judge Pierre Leval concurred that ATS regulation could not be applied to corporations, but only to individuals who have done harm. Today, the policy does not provide any accountability for Shell’s complicity in the torture of the Ogoni or its impacts on the environment.
Working On It:
- Friends of the Earth
- Center for Constitutional Rights
- EarthRights International
- Amnesty International
CEO: Robert G. Card
Chairman: Ian A. Bourne
455 Rene-Levesque Blvd. West
Montreal, Quebec Canada
SNC Lavalin, one of the largest engineering companies based in Montreal, Canada has accrued a greatly unfavorable reputation. It was recently revealed that SNC Lavalin was responsible for giving vast amounts of financial support to the Quebec Liberal Party and the Parti Quebocois, violating the province’s 30-year-old law that prohibits such activity. Over 1 million dollars was given to the parties by SNC between 1998 and 2010. The Vice President of SNC told executives that they would receive bonuses greater than their donations if they contributed to the either of the parties.
SNC received 550 contracts worth $247.5 million dollars from the Quebec Transport Department, but denied that the political contributions had anything to do with obtaining the contracts.
In addition, in April of this year, the World Bank put a 10-year ban on SNC Lavalin for allegations of bribery schemes in Bangladesh. SNC allegedly offered large bribes to at least six Bangladeshi officials in order to obtain contracts for a large bridge construction project. These bribery accusations caused the World Bank to suspend a US $1.2 billion dollar loan to SNC that would bar the company from bidding on other contracts in the country.
The latest controversy involving SNC Lavalin is the company’s plans to build a $163 million dollar hospital complex in Trinidad and Tobago and is heavily backed by the Canadian government. In June SNC Lavalin was awarded a contract to design and build the hospital in the town of Penal per recommendation by the Canadian Commercial Corporation (CCC). The CCC is a contracting and procurement agency that expedites the development of various industries outside the World Trade Organization’s agreements. It was primarily used after World War II to help rebuild Europe, but today largely operates in developing markets.
Afra Raymond, a construction agency spokesperson, urged the Trinidad and Tobago government not to give contracts to companies that have been banned by the World Bank as public money can easily get mishandled. However the CCC stands behind its decision in proposing that SNC Lavalin go forward on the project saying, “it carries out a strong due diligence review of the firms it works with prior to the signature of the contract” and involves an assessment of a firm’s “financial, managerial, technical, and Corporate Social Responsibility capabilities” reports the Huffington Post. The CCC also does not publicly disclose the results of due diligence processing, which implies that taxpayers must trust that the company will act in good faith.
The governments of Canada and Trinidad & Tobago are not maintaining proper standards in public projects and are essentially propping up a company who has had a filthy track record of financial corruption.
Working On It:
SUEZ-LYONNAISE DES EAUX (SLDE)
CEO: Mr. Gerard Mestrallet
Contact the Corporation:
Phone: +33 1 40 06 64 00
Abuse: Water privatization
The privatization of water has had a disastrous impact on the human right to clean water, and the French company Suez is the worst perpetrator of this abuse. The company’s billions of dollars in profit come at the expense of poor people living in countries where thousands lack access to potable water, and, because of private water contracts, are also facing skyrocketing water prices.
Suez goes by many names around the world- Ondeo, SITA, and others- to mask its worldwide net of controversial activities. But no sleight of hand can hide the fact that Suez, which is one of the largest water companies in the world, has been a leader in turning the human right to water into an unaffordable luxury.
According to Public Citizen, Suez has raised water rates, cut off the water of people unable to pay, refused to extend services to poverty-stricken neighborhoods, and then threatened legal action when contracts are terminated. For example, in Manila, Philippines, after seven years of water privatization under a Suez company (Maynilad Water) contract, studies showed that water rates increased in some neighborhoods by 400 to 700 percent. These studies also showed that the negligence of the company resulted in cholera and gastroenteritis outbreaks that killed six people and severely sickened 725 in Manila’s Tondo district.
In Argentina, Suez mixed companies have refused to make promised investments in the water infrastructure, which has resulted in serious water pollution problems. They also charge high consumer rates and cut off water access for citizens unable to pay, leaving those most in need without access to a life-sustaining natural resource. In Bolivia, a Suez company (Aguas de Illimani) left 200,000 people without access to water and caused a revolt when it tried to charge between $335 and $445 to connect a private home to the water supply.
Countless people were unable to afford this charge in a country whose yearly per capita GDP is $915. Unfortunately, the IMF and World Bank are playing a key role in pushing water privatization all over the world. Many countries have been required to open up their water supply to private companies as a condition for receiving IMF loans, and the World Bank has approved millions of dollars in loans for the privatization of water systems.
Who’s working on it:
• Corporate Accountability International
• Food and Water Watch
• Stop Suez
CEO Michael T. Mack
Chairman: Michele Demare
US Corporate Headquarters:
3411 Silverside Road
Wilmington, DE 19810
Business and politics often coincide in the global economy. When corporations, workers, local communities, and the environment converge, consensus building gets muddled and tension is likely to brew. Syngenta, one of the world’s largest seed and pesticide producers, is at the crux of this very problem.
Syngenta has been accused of producing harmful pesticides that harm agriculture instead of cultivating it. For example, Syngenta has developed and marketed a strong pesticide known as thiamethoxam, which allegedly protects honeybees from varroa mites. However, Beekeepers who have used thiamethoxam have noticed that their bees have died in great numbers. In defense, Syngenta officials have said, “there is no direct correlation between neonicotinoids use and poor bee health, although a correlation can be drawn between bee losses and the presence of the varroa mite.” Activists have voiced that all variables should be explored in the death of their bees, including the use thiamethoxam, an extremely likely culprit. The quick decline of the bee population is detrimental to global food production and the proliferation of counterproductive pesticides intensifies this risk.
Additionally, Syngenta has been greatly involved in dirty politics. Another one of Syngenta’s controversial pesticides is atrazine, which is used on cornfields throughout the mid-western United States. Atrazine has been very popular among farmers since the 1950s because of its effectiveness in killing various kinds of weeds. However, reports indicate that atrazine has had harmful effects on individuals in close proximity to where it is being used. Research has revealed that atrazine has been found in waterways from field run-off and has also become airborne after spray treatments to crops. Studies suggest that atrazine is harmful to fetuses and decreases men’s sperm quality. Another study has shown that women living in areas of higher concentration of atrazine in the water supply were more likely to give birth to children with genital abnormalities. When a class action lawsuit was pressed against Syngenta for its business dealing atrazine, Syngenta criticized the suit by asserting that banning atrazine would be a disservice to farmers. A statement from the company reads, “ [the suit] would effectively ban the use of this critical product that has been the backbone of safe weed control for more than 50 years.” Additionally, Syngenta took even greater precautions by hiring “third party allies” to independently support and praise the company. Syngenta also took steps to look into the background of the judge in the case’s personal life as well as well as psychological evaluations of the scientists who have found evidence against the pesticide.
Working On It:
Chairman: S. Barry Jackson
CEO: Russell K. Girling
450 – 1 Street SW
CALGARY AB T2P 5H1
Phone: +1 (403) 920-2000
Fax: +1 (403) 920-2200
Abuses: plans to construct Keystone XL Pipeline
TransCanada first appeared on the 2013 Most Wanted list. This is an update.
Although popular opposition to the Keystone XL pipeline has prevented the project from being built, TransCanada continues to aggressively lobby federal and provincial decision makers to realize the erection of the pipeline.
In late spring 2015, the crude oil manufacturer announced that it expected to begin construction later in the year on Canada’s first liquefied natural gas (LNG) pipeline worth some $4.1 billion if given consent from a Petronas-led consortium interested in investing in the project. The announcement spurred a great deal of controversy in British Columbia along whose coast the pipeline is slated to transport LNG. The company’s particular timing of said announcement is also in bad taste considering an oil spill from a tanker the city of Vancouver experienced in its port (English Bay) in April 2015. It is also worth noting that, in spite of attempts by TransCanada to promote its pipelines as inherently safe methods of transporting natural gas, the company is facing about a dozen new allegations of safety-code violations from Canada’s National Energy Board as of March 2015.
The Canadian based corporation plans to build Keystone XL, a pipeline that would extend 2000 miles from Alberta, Canada to the Gulf Coast of Texas and carry tar sands oil, an extremely dirty source of energy. The pipeline would double imports of tar sands oil from Canada into US refineries on the Gulf Coast where it would be internationally exported. The pipeline bypasses refineries from Alberta through the Midwest and carries the heavy crude to Gulf Coast refineries in tax-free Foreign Trade Zones where it can be refined and sold to international buyers at a higher profit.
Tar sands oil is harmful to the environment, public, and economy. Canada currently has the third largest oil reserve in the world, and tar sands cover 140,000 square kilometers of Alberta’s boreal forest, a chunk of land approximately the size of New York. Since it contains so much carbon, tar sands oil production and extraction yields carbon dioxide emissions 3 times higher than those of current oil sources. Keystone XL would carry 900,000 barrels of tars sands oil into US daily, doubling US reliance and adding enough oil to put more than six million new cars to the roads. According to an Oxford study, continuing to use Canadian tar sands oil will bring us 14% closer to a point of non-reversible climate change. The refining process in the south also produces higher emissions of sulfur dioxide and nitrous oxide, which result in smog and acid rain that increase prevalence of respiratory diseases like asthma.
The process of extracting tars sands oil not only uses energy, but also exorbitant amounts of precious fresh water, as it is needed to separate bitumen used to make tar sands oil from sand, silt and clay. Three barrels of water are required to extract one barrel of tars sands oil, which amounts to about 400 million gallons of polluted water a day. One barrel of tar sands oil also produces 1.5 barrels of toxic waste which include dangerous substances like cyanide and ammonia that are housed in large human-made pools called tailing ponds and can get into nearby clean water sources, such as the Athabasca River, which sits alongside much of the extraction.Besides wasting water, the pipeline also risks leaking. In 2010, one million gallons of tar sands oil poured into the Kalamazoo river in Michigan from an Enbridge (a different Canadian company) pipeline, a spill that has caused damage to the local environment. Further, TransCanada’s Keystone I pipeline has spilled a dozen times in less than a year. The Keystone XL pipeline would go across six states and cross major rivers like the Missouri River, Yellowstone and Red Rivers and also key sources of drinking water like the Ogallala Aquifer which currently supplies 2 million Americans.
The increase in tar sands oil is also harmful to communities. Northern Alberta, where tar sands oil is currently extracted, is home to a large First Nations population whose tradition and lifestyle are disrupted by tar sands extraction. Further, communities residing close to tailing ponds have experienced increased rates of rare cancers, renal failure, lupus and hyperthyroidism. In Fort Chipewyan, neighbor to a tailing pond, 100 of 1200 residents have died from cancer.
Moreover, the pipeline would not help but most likely hurt the American economy. According to US State Department, the pipeline would only create 6500 positions for temporary construction work and would only leave hundreds of permanent jobs, disproving TransCanada’s claim that their project would ensure tens or hundreds of thousands of new jobs. In addition, a Cornell University study found that pipeline would actually eliminate more jobs than it would produce because it would decrease the attention devoted to clean energy.
Who’s working on it:
• Friends of the Earth
• National Resources Defense Council
• National Wildlife Federation
• Indigenous Enviornmental Network
• Green Peace Canada
• Council of Canadians
• 350.org: Tar Sands Action
• Documentary Resources: White Water Black Gold, The Oil Up There
President and CEO: Magnus Hall
13C SE-169 56
Abuses: Destruction of environment and communities, political manipulation, legal abuse of international treaties
Vattenfall is completely owned by the Swedish government and, since its founding until the mid-70’s, its operations were mostly based in Sweden where it focused on hydroelectric power generation. However, after 1974, the company began delving into nuclear power generation and started constructing nuclear reactors across Sweden. From the 90’s onward, Vattenfall rapidly expanded into other European markets – countries featuring larger investments by the corporation include Sweden, Finland, Norway, Denmark, Germany, Poland and the UK – acquiring stakes in several major European energy production companies. In the process of enlarging its area of operations, Vatenfall simultaneously branched out into other forms of power generation (such as coal-based power) and invested large sums of money in constructing hydro and coal-fired power stations, nuclear reactors, and other hydropower and heat generators across Europe.
Presently, the majority of the energy generated by Vattenfall’s plants come from non-renewable and eco-destructive power sources: of the company’s current total generating capacity, 45% is coal-powered, 33% is from nuclear plants, 21% is from hydro stations and under 1% is from clean-tech sources such as wind-power or biofuels. In Europe, power plants constitute the largest share of air pollution-related damage, costing the EU between 89.1 and 151.22 billion dollars annually to deal with the issue. Some studies have also estimated that as many as 500,000 deaths a year in Europe may be attributable to air pollution. Unfortunately, Vattenfall is a major contributor to such negative trends: the company owns four of the “dirty thirty” most polluting power stations in Europe.
Furthermore, a large, brown coal power plant the company operates in the German city of Jänschwalde is currently the third greatest polluting power plant in Europe (and second-largest brown coal power plant in operation in Germany). At full load, the 3000 megawatt plant burns approximately 80,000 tons of brown coal a day. Despite efforts to renovate the station and improve its energy efficiency, it has the fifth-lowest ratio of energy efficiency to CO2 emission in Europe. The process by which brown coal (or lignite) is used to generate electrical energy is among the least efficient and most polluting methods of achieving that end. In addition, the extraction of brown coal requires the rocks on which lignite is concentrated to be excavated through strip (or open-pit) mining, a process that can damage ecosystems around it and sometimes forces communities to relocate as mining operations are enlarged.
Vattenfall’s heavy reliance on coal-fired power plants is so vast that certain environmental NGOs such as Greenpeace estimate that the company’s power plants account for more that twice the greenhouse gas emissions as the rest of Sweden generates overall. In fact, if one adds the total amount of CO2 that is generated by Vattenfall’s power plants outside of Sweden to the amount generated within the Scandinavian state, Sweden would be the fourth greatest per-capita emitter of Co2 in the world. Yet, despite the heavy environmental costs inherent to generating electricity through brown coal, companies such as Vattenfall find burning lignite to be a rather lucrative enterprise: post 2008, the price of penalties utility companies had to pay for emitting CO2 in the atmosphere crashed, allowing said companies to realize greater profits. The environmental consequences of Vattenfall’s decision to pursue the use of lignite for electricity production have sharply conflicted with Germany’s attempts to become a green energy powerhouse where CO2 emissions actually increased in 2012 and 2013 in face a massive drive by the government to cut carbon emissions and phase out nuclear power.
This issue has (among other things) drawn Vattenfall a lot of negative publicity and motivated the German public to call on the government to impose a special “climate fee” on coal-fired power plants.
Vattenfall also previously accumulated negative publicity in Germany in 2009, when it launched a $1.9 billion investor-state claim against the German government under the Energy Charter Treaty (ECT) over alleged permit delays for a coal-fired power plant in Hamburg. After the matter was litigated in German courts, the German government provided Vattenfall with the requested permits notably featuring provisions to protect the Elbe River. Instead of complying with the provisions however, the corporation took the Hamburg government to court again claiming that Hamburg’s environmental rules violated Germany’s obligation to afford foreign investors “fair and equitable treatment”. While the Energy Charter is indeed based on the idea of facilitating mutually beneficial international flows of investment and technology in the energy sector between investors and countries, this claim was dubious as the treaty provides clear provisions for national sovereignty over energy resources (ECT Article 18). Nevertheless, the episode concluded with another settlement being negotiated between Vattenfall and the Hamburg government in 2010, now forcing any regulations to protect the Elbe river to be dropped and the opening of plant operations in Hamburg in 2014.
Incidentally, Vattenfall recently resorted to perfidious tactics to achieve concession from the Hamburg government again when it heavily lobbied the ruling SPD party to maintain ownership of Hamburg’s power grid (a move that has drawn the company further public criticism). In another brazen show of force, Vattenfall launched a second investor-state claim against the Germany government in May 2012 demanding the state pay them a reported $5 billion in taxpayer compensation for claimed losses relating to two Vattenfaal nuclear plants affected by Germany’s decision to phase out nuclear power. However, the German government’s commitment to abandon the use of nuclear energy by 2022 came in the unpredicted wake of a strong public outcry against nuclear power following the 2011 Fukushima Daiichi power plant disaster. Once again, Vattenfall claimed Germany’s policy change violated its obligations to foreign investors under the Energy Charter Treaty.
Working On It:
WEED World Economy, Ecology & Development
International Institute for Sustainable Development
German Institute for Economic Research
Chairman: Antoine Frerot
S.A. 36 38 Avenue
Kleber PARIS 75116
Phone: +33 171750000
Fax: +33 171751045
Abuses: operations in Israel, high prices and bad service, privatization of water
The France based corporation is the largest private water service company in the world, providing 95 million people with drinking water and 68 million people with sewer service.
Yet, Veolia has had questionable involvement in Israeli occupied territory. Veolia operates bus lines through the occupied West Bank, thus connecting illegal settlements to Israel. The buses do no make stops in any Palestinian towns and use Israeli occupied roads which have taken land from Palestinian towns and villages and have restricted passage for Palestinians between their communities.
A Veolia Environmental Services Israel company, T.M.M Integrated Recycling Services, also operates the Tovlan landfill in the occupied Jordan Valley, using captured Palestinian land and natural resources for Israeli settlements. Further, Veolia was involved in construction and operation of a railway linking illegal settlements in east Jerusalem with Israel, a tramway whose operation was deemed illegal in 2010 by the UN Human Rights Council. The railway is designed to connect the city of Jerusalem with surrounding controversial settlements. The tramway is an effort to make occupied settlements permanent and eliminates hope of peace for the Palestinian people.
Besides its controversial actions in Israel, Veolia also provides mediocre service for an inflated price. A 2008 investigation by the French consumer group UFC-Que Choisir found Veolia overcharged Syndicat des Eaux d’Ile de France (SEDIF) 80 to 90 million euros.
Based on these overcharged costs, many municipalities in the US have not renewed their contracts with Veolia in order to improve service at a better deal. Many cities, including Burley, Idaho, have spent thousands of dollars repairing Veolia’s poorly constructed treatment plants. Even in its founding city, Paris, Veolia lost its water management deal at the end of 2009.
Veolia also overcharged the residents of Sofia, after taking over the local Bulgarian subsidiary Sofiyaska Voda in 2011, increasing water rates by 9% after three months of operation and threatening to discontinue service to customers who failed to pay the company’s hefty bills. Moreover, Veolia offered inadequate service and failed to prevent water loss, losing an average of 60% of its water according to Sofia News Agency. Sofia is just one of the many examples of communities who have paid high prices for Veolia’s substandard service.
More than poor service at high prices, Veolia in general denies the human right to water. Veolia refuses to operate in areas with the least access to safe drinking water, often because these poor rural areas can’t afford expensive water contracts. By privatizing water and selling it at huge prices, the company prevents fair access to safe drinking water for all.
Who’s working on it:
• Food and Water Watch
• Global Exchange
• The Council of Canadians
• Documentary Resource: For the Love of Water
Chariman: S. Robson Walton
CEO: Michael T. Duke
Wal-Mart Stores Inc.
702 Southwest 8th Street
Bentonville, AR 72716
Phone: +1 (479) 273-4000
Fax: +1 (479) 277-1830
Abuses: unfair treatment of employees, use of sweatshop labor, bribery in Mexico
Within the US, Wal-Mart forces employees to work long hours with little pay. According to Wal-Mart Watch, a Wal-Mart employee makes an average annual salary of only $15,500 or an average hourly wage of $8.81.
This means most full-time Wal-Mart employees still live below the poverty line. It would cost Wal-Mart shoppers only 46 cents more per shopping trip to raise this hourly salary to $12. In addition, from July 2005 to June 2011, Wal-Mart has settled around 70 state and federal cases surrounding wage and hour violations including lack of breaks allowed and failure to pay overtime, costing the company over $1 billion.
Further studies in California, Georgia and Massachusetts have shown that Wal-Mart employees are more reliant on government assistant, costing the government an estimated $1 billion. Just recently, Wal-Mart even stopped providing health care to part time employees. Wal-Mart has also inconsistently provided safe working environments. In January 2012, workers at NFI Industries, which transports Wal-Mart products, complained with Cal-OSHA of dangerous conditions including abnormal heat, unfair speed quotas, broken equipment posing hazards, and excessive dust and chemicals causing dizziness and nosebleeds. Wal-Mart was cited for $257,000 on account of these violations.
Wal-Mart also treats minority employees unfairly. In March 2005, Wal-Mart agreed to pay $11 million to settle a federal investigation finding that in at least 250 cases, it employs undocumented immigrants to clean stores, forcing these janitors to work seven days a week without overtime pay and often locking them in stores overnight when they worked late hours. In addition, in April 2001, Wal-Mart paid $440,000 to settle and EEOC suit filed by Latinos working at Sam’s Club in California who endured harassment and racial slurs from other employees. Further, in February 2009, Wal-Mart paid $17.5 million dollars to settle a lawsuit filed by truck driver applicants who claimed Wal-Mart discriminated against them because of their African-American race.
Wal-Mart also drives out local businesses, at the cost of economies. When a Wal-Mart opens, local supermarkets and other stores have shown to suffer sales decline 10-40%. A 2009 study in Chicago showed that businesses within one mile of a Wal-Mart Supercenter compared to those farther away have a 25% chance of closing in the first year of a Supercenter’s opening, and 40% in the second. These local businesses, nevertheless, are better for local economies than Wal-Mart. A 2009 study in New Orleans showed that locally owned business give back twice as much revenues as big stores like Wal-Mart to their communities. Moreover, a study found that in Southern California, Wal-Mart’s effect on super markets could cause the area to lose $2.8 billion per year.
Less well known is the fact that Wal-Mart maintains its low price level by allowing substandard labor conditions at the overseas factories producing most of its goods. The company continually demands lower prices from its suppliers, who, in turn, make more outrageous and abusive demands on their workers in order to meet Wal-Mart’s requirements. According to the International Labor Rights Fund, Wal-Mart supplier sweatshop workers in China, Indonesia, Bangladesh, Nicaragua and Swaziland are denied minimum wages, forced to work overtime without compensation, and refused legally mandated health care. Other worker rights violations that have been found in foreign factories that produce goods for Wal-Mart include locked bathrooms, starvation wages, pregnancy tests, denial of access to health care, and workers being fired and blacklisted if they try to defend their rights.
Additionally, nearly 70% of Wal-Mart’s goods are made in factories in China, a country where garment workers are often kept under 24-hour-a-day surveillance and can be fired for even discussing factory conditions. The Chinese government does not allow independent human rights groups to exist, and all attempts to form independent unions have been crushed. Wal-Mart refuses to reveal its Chinese contractors and will not allow independent, unannounced inspections of its contractors’ facilities.
In spring 2012, The New York Times revealed that Wal-Mart bribed Mexican officials in order to speed the process of building new stores in the country. Wal-Mart bribed officials in order to construct hundreds of new store locations and thereby establish a major presence before other local stores had time to react. Wal-Mart obtained permits that normally require months to verify in days and convinced officials to ignore environmental regulations, among other things.
Who’s working on it:
• Walmart Watch
• International Labor Rights
• American Rights at Work
• Documentary Resource: The High Cost of Low Price