Top Ten Corporate Criminals Alumni
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:
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.
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:
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
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
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.
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.
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:
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.
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..
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
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
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.
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”
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:
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
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
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.
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.