Names in the News

India's Most Wanted

A JUDGE IN BHOPAL, INDIA declared in February that Union Carbide Corporation, its former chairman Warren Anderson and the company's eastern division, based in Hong Kong, were "absconders" for failing to appear for their criminal trial in Bhopal. Anderson and the company are facing homicide charges for their roles in the world's worst industrial disaster, resulting from a gas leak from a Carbide pesticide plant in December 1984, which killed over 3,000 and injured hundreds of thousands more.

In October 1991, when the Indian Supreme Court upheld the $470 million settlement of damage claims against Carbide by the government of India on behalf of the gas victims, it reinstated the criminal case against Carbide and its top officials.

 "Although Carbide accepted the jurisdiction of the Indian courts in 1986 when it got the case transferred from the Federal District Court in New York and again accepted the terms of the Indian Supreme Court just last October, it has apparently decided to flout those parts of the Supreme Court decision it does not like," says Ward Morehouse of the Bhopal Action Resource Center in New York.

 Anderson, who has retired from Union Carbide, and the other defendants were ordered again to appear for the trial's resumption in late March 1992.

Union Carbide Vice President and General Counsel Joseph Geoghan says, "Union Carbide Corporation has never appeared before an Indian criminal court and never agreed to submit to the criminal law jurisdiction of the Indian courts. Neither the corporation nor its past chairman, Warren M. Anderson, are otherwise subject to criminal jurisdiction in India. Union Carbide India and Indian citizens have appeared before the court."

 Phil Lerman, managing editor of the Fox Television Network's popular America's Most Wanted show, says he would consider doing a story on Union Carbide and Anderson, but it would depend on the circumstances of the case. "Do we have a fugitive here?" Lerman asks. "If Warren Anderson is found in this country, are the police going to arrest him? Is he going to be extradited?"

San Juan Shuffle

PHARMACEUTICAL FACTORY WORKERS at American Home Products (AHP) plants in Elkhart, Indiana and Great Valley, Pennsylvania filed a $1 billion class action civil RICO lawsuit against the drug maker on February 26. The new lawsuit is separate but related to the $100 million Racketeering Influenced Corrupt Organizations (RICO) Act suit filed against AHP 13 months ago by the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers union (OCAW) in connection with an AHP plant shutdown in Elkhart.

 "The first lawsuit's damages are limited to union dues - this one concerns lost wages," according to Connie Malloy, president of OCAW's Elkhart local. Both actions are based on IRS Section 936, which grants U.S. firms 100 percent tax credits on profits made by Puerto Rico subsidiaries - but does not allow companies to shift jobs from the United States to Puerto Rico.

 The lawsuit alleges that an AHP plant in Puerto Rico received nearly all of the production formerly located in AHP's Great Valley, Pennsylvania plant, as well as substantial portions of production from AHP's Rouses Point, New York plant. The Great Valley main manufacturing building, which had 700 production jobs, today has fewer than 100 remaining manufacturing workers. The lawsuit further alleges that another AHP plant in Puerto Rico absorbed most of the production of AHP's Elkhart, Indiana plant. That plant, which employed 775 people, closed last November.

Sumitomo Sexism

A JAPANESE COMPANY operating in the United States retaliated against an employee who testified before Congress in September about sexual harassment on the job, the employee charged in late February. She told a congressional subcommittee that the company created a hostile work environment that forced her to resign.

 "I have been embarrassed, pained and humiliated and frightened by the subsequent retaliation by SCOA [Sumitomo Corporation of America, a trading company] for my testimony before the House Subcommittee," Kimberly Carraway testified before the House Employment and Housing Subcommittee.

 In September 1991, Carraway, a sales assistant for Sumitomo in Chicago, told the Employment and Housing Subcommittee about several instances of sexual harassment including: being asked by her Japanese supervisor for photos of herself in a swimsuit; discovering a G-string on the floor near her boss' desk; being exposed to pornographic calendars with the Sumitomo logo; and having to deal with sexist remarks.

 After testifying before the committee, Carraway was placed on fully paid leave for four days. When Carraway returned to work, her job responsibilities were significantly reduced, her overtime was limited, she received threatening letters and phone calls and was ostracized by the rest of the office.

 "We do not believe that four days of fully paid leave constitutes retaliation," Kenji Miyahara, president and chief executive officer of Sumitomo, testified. Concerning the threatening letters and phone calls, Miyahara said, "the company condemns such actions, and cannot reasonably be held responsible for them."

 - Ben Lilliston