by Russell Mokhiber
Behind the Lines
Editorial: Clinton’s Prescription for Disaster
Interview: Working for Labor Rights
An Interview with Pharis Harvey
South Asia: The new target of international waste traders
by Ann Leonard
Fury Over a River
by Predeep S. Mehta
Book Notes: Readings on Environmental Justice
Names in the News
In response to letters criticizing my article "Losing Jobs to 936" (July/August 1993), I cannot see how Section 936 could be construed as correcting, even in part, "the dislocation caused by nearly one hundred years of colonialism imposed on the Puerto Ricans by the imperialist practices of the United States ..." when it is corporations that reap the benefits. The article in no way pits "worker against worker" but rather points out that corporate power continues to grow unabated, sanctioned by the U.S. government - the same government that continually shows that it favors corporations over workers, whether they live in Indiana, Tennessee or Puerto Rico. If the authors of the letter to the editors (Multinational Monitor, November 1993) want reparations or jobs programs for U.S. citizens living in Puerto Rico, why not work for policies that benefit workers not corporations?
The article "Losing Jobs to 936" by Katherine Isaac (July/August 1993) drew two letters of criticism which unfairly characterized the position of my organization which represented thousands of mainland workers whose jobs were destroyed by Section 936.
These writers compare the transfer of jobs from the U.S. mainland to Puerto Rico as qualitatively similar to the transfer of jobs from Massachusetts to Michigan or the District of Columbia. The Multinational Monitor, and by extension, the Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers Union (OCAW), are accused of "blaming [Puerto Ricans] for doing exactly what the states on the mainland do to each other."
Unlike states, Puerto Rico is its own taxing jurisdiction. Residents and corporations of Puerto Rico pay no federal taxes, but instead pay a similar level of taxes to the Commonwealth government (currently about 36 percent on corporate income). Section 936, which exempts corporate income that is repatriated from Puerto Rico is given meaning only after Puerto Rico first exempts corporate income locally. The net result is that Puerto Rico, as a part of the United States, is effectively able to waive all federal taxes on corporations within its borders.
States on the other hand, do not have this ability. In fact, it is unconstitutional for states to be treated differently from the standpoint of federal taxes. Thus, it is impossible for any state to "waive" federal taxes on businesses within its borders. In the corporate-inspired scramble for jobs among regions, individual states (and territories like Puerto Rico) will waive property and/or local income taxes, provide free land and grant other incentives. But all of these subsidies, when taken together, don't amount to a third of what Puerto Rico is able to provide by waiving federal taxes. Thus, we arrive at a situation where is would be cheaper by a magnitude for mainland taxpayers to simply pay the wages of 100,000 Puerto Rican workers (perhaps as reparations) than to continue paying an enormous premium to corporate profiteers and environmental vandals to make these transfers.
The OCAW deplores the corporate-inspired slugfest between states for jobs and opposes this regional warfare wherever it has existed. The advantages extracted by businesses in Puerto Rico are of an entirely different character, however. First, they dwarf any that could ever be legally offered by any state. And second, they are financed almost entirely by the victims; mainland working class taxpayers who have in the past coughed up the $3 billion annual cost for this corporate free ride.
This is not the first time U.S. unions have been accused of "blaming Puerto Rican workers" or "picking on Puerto Rico." Mouthpieces for the 936 companies initiated these attacks three years ago in an effort to split mainland and Puerto Rican workers. In 1990, former resident commissioner Jaime Fuster proclaimed that OCAW-sponsored legislation had "the appearance of discriminating against U.S. workers of Hispanic origin."
These are the very same elements that recently inundated the East Coast and the U.S. Congress with threats of a mass immigration of Puerto Ricans if Section 936 were tampered with. Exploiting sensitivities within the Hispanic community and pandering to racist tendencies on the mainland should be exposed and cut off at the knees wherever it exists. And charges of racism (no matter how carefully worded) against groups of workers, many of whom are members of racial minority groups themselves, should be carefully examined in this light.
Corporate giveaways need to be exposed and challenged wherever they exist. In the case of Section 936, this "mother of all tax giveaways" has exacted an enormous toll on mainland workers. In an effort to end this abuse, OCAW has proposed many solutions (as mentioned in the original article), none of which jeopardized Puerto Rican job growth and wage levels.
Director, Special Projects
Oil, Chemical and Atomic Workers International Union
Delegates from India , Malaysia , the Philippines , Sri Lanka , Indonesia , Nicaragua and Ethiopia ended a two-day meeting in the Indian city of Bangalore with calls to resist draft proposals which they believe would drive up seed prices. "The draft would have serious repercussions on the development of poor countries," said Malaysian agricultural expert Mohammed Idris, president of the Consumers Association of Penang. "Patenting seeds, for example, would amount to robbery of our seeds and peasants will be forced to buy the seeds from the robbers."
Indian delegate Vandana Shiva said the proposals, drafted by former GATT (General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade) director-general Arthur Dunkel, are a "powerful instrument of colonization." The so-called Dunkel draft of a new world trade pact includes clauses on patenting of seeds and plant breeding.
Indian farmers have demonstrated in numbers as high as 500,000 against the draft, fearing it would stop them replanting their own seeds and force them to pay more for new ones. More than 30,000 farmers staged a three-day sit-in in front of Delhi’s historic Red Fort last month, demanding the Indian government reject the plan.
About half the french fries sold in U.S. fast food chains are produced in a five-county area straddling the Washington-Oregon border, according to the study.
Only about half of each potato is used to make restaurant quality french fries, and as a result ground water in the Columbia Basin area has been "massively contaminated" by nitrates from the organic decomposition of potato wastes, the report said. Pesticides used on potato farms compound the problem, resulting in well water that frequently exceeds federal standards for contaminants.
"Tax and economic development subsidies are being unnecessarily provided to an industry which generates considerable social and environmental costs that in turn require public remediation with those same scarce public funds," the report said.
The report recommends re-evaluating the price of water in the region to provide industry with an incentive to conserve. It also suggests a new focus on improving the water infrastructure in the region and preventing further degradation.
POLICE ARRESTED A FORMER CHIEF of the Montedison chemical firms on corruption charges on December 7, 1993, as investigation into Italy ’s second largest private company deepened. Seventy-year-old Mario Schimberni, who lost the presidency of Montedison in 1987 after it was taken over by the Ferruzzi family, is being charged with "false reporting of the company’s balance sheet and the illegal distribution of profits," the sources said.
Schimberni, one of Italy’s most influential businessmen in the early 1980s who later headed the state railways, will be held under house arrest in Rome because of his age.
The Ferruzzi group, which has just been saved from bankruptcy by its bankers, has been implicated in scandals over bribes paid by business to political parties.
Several former executives, including some Ferruzzi family members, face possible corruption charges and the family has lost control of the group after its debts soared to $16.4 billion.
Milan magistrates, leading the corruption inquiries, ordered the arrest of Schimberni in connection with $294 million allegedly diverted to a Dutch Antilles-based company between 1984 and 1986.
At the time Schimberni was president of Montedison and a Swiss-based holding company M.E.I.H.C. which controlled several Montedison offshore firms.
In November 1993, Sri Lankan customs authorities ordered the company to return the milk powder after local tests showed it contained more than the permissible amount of radioactive particles. The spokesperson said the entire consignment was re-shipped on December 6, 1993 to the port of origin for further checks. Customs officials said the discovery was made by the Radio Isotope Centre of the University of Colombo.
Sri Lanka has resumed checks on imported milk foods after Bangladesh recently rejected a consignment of milk because it was contaminated by radioactivity.
Checks were introduced following the 1984 disaster at the Chernobyl nuclear power plant in the then-Soviet Union, which raised fears that neighboring milk-producing countries could have been affected.
The company spokesperson said the consignment had been certified by the Geneva-based Societe Generale de Surveillance (SGS) as having the permissible amount of radioactive material
before arriving in Colombo. "The SGS is a world famous organization that issues certificates of conformity and standards on milk and other products. They are standing by their original certificate," he said.
Clinton’s Prescription for
IT IS TIME FOR ADVOCATES of a single-payer health care plan to stand up and be counted. The terms of the
unfolding debate over Clinton’s health care proposal have been set by the administration within the
framework of so-called managed competition. The complexity of the plan guarantees extended discussion
and endless amendment. But so far most single-payer advocates have avoided the question of whether
Clinton’s plan should be supported or opposed.
Single-payer critics have denounced the Clinton plan, calling it a cruel hoax. The question now is: Can the cruelty be amended out so the hoax can be transformed into a beneficial program, or is it beyond repair?
Insurance companies are a central component of the U.S. health care problem. Yet Clinton’s plan would further empower the insurance monoliths, and rely on them to serve as the agents of his solution. Most critically, the Clinton program puts patients at the mercy of insurance carriers, who are required to control health care costs, but are given no way to effectively limit costs except through denial of medical care.
The plan would transform most health insurance enrollment from a group basis to individual choice. Competition for subscribers would supposedly ensure fair and responsive treatment by the insurance companies. But the opposite will more frequently be the case. Unlike most other businesses, health insurers do best when they encourage their most active cusomers to go elsewhere. Subscribers whose poor health leads to problems with their insurance are unwanted customers. Managed competition will become competition at dumping these customers. It is certain to intensify mistreatment of the subscribers who are most dependent on their insurance.
Among the other basic weaknesses of Clinton’s program:
o All citizens will be required to make a 20 percent contribution to the cost of health insurance. This prohibitive contribution belies the claim of the universality of the Clinton plan, since millions will not be able to afford this payment. The 20 percent contribution will be much more costly than most present employee payments to employer-provided coverage. Employers will delight at the bonanza a reduced standard of contribution provides them.
o Cost projections are unrealistic, and insurance premiums entirely inadequate. The Clinton numbers just do not add up; instead, they depend on wishful projections of significant curtailment of health care spending.
o Medicare is undermined by requiring far-reaching cost reductions. When Reagan and Bush cut Medicare, they caused hospitals and physicians to raise their rates for non-Medicare patients. If managed competition prevents this "cost shifting" to non-Medicare patients, hospitals and physicians will search for ways to cut their losses on Medicare patients - with the result that the elderly and disabled will receive inferior care.
o Freedom of choice of doctor is maintained only as a fiction, for all but the wealthy. Those who insist on exercising their freedom of choice of medical providers will pay considerably more than 20 percent of their health care premiums, or find that they are covered for much less than 80 percent of the cost of their care, or both.
o Vast new bureaucracies are established on top of the bloated administrative structures that already burden the health care system, adding new billions of pointless cost. Even more alarmingly, additional tens of billions of health care dollars will be wasted on new costs of advertising and competition for subscribers. These new costs contrast glaringly with the opportunity to cut administrative costs that a single-payer system would offer, as demonstrated by the Canadian example and the U.S. experience with the Medicare system.
The Clinton system is a prescription for disaster. The shortcomings are the essence of the program, not minor problems that can be corrected through amendment or with experience. There is every reason to expect the legislative process to further worsen the program, when efforts are made to placate conservatives and business interests in Congress.
Single-payer supporters may find comfort in the Clinton plan provision that allows states to create single-payer systems in place of the managed-care program. But the option is illusory. States are not likely to adopt single payer for the same reasons that no state has done so up to now. Apart from an inability to stand up to the overwhelming power of the insurance industry, states would be restrained by fear of the impact on their business climate.
The Clinton plan is not a step toward single payer. Its failure will discredit the concept of government control over health insurance, and could set back the movement toward a single-payer system for decades. Most importantly, Clinton’s approach will take a very bad health care system and make it worse.
Given that the problems of managed competition lie at the core of the concept, and are not merely weaknesses that can be amended out, single-payer advocates need to muster the courage to call for a total rejection of this false start toward national health care. If single-payer supporters join conservatives in declaring outright opposition to the Clinton program, it can be defeated.
Single-payer advocates should attack the Clinton plan not merely as a less desirable solution than single payer, but on the basis that its inherent deficiencies are precisely the problems that a single-payer system would remedy. This approach will make it clear that single-payer supporters are not uncompromisingly demanding all or nothing, but are rejecting a false solution and offering a sound alternative.
Is this approach too harsh to the millions who are suffering from the problems caused by the present health care system? It would be only if the Clinton program could really contribute significantly toward rectifying the problems, rather than merely revising and exacerbating current difficulties.
Once Clinton’s managed competition is adequately analyzed, it should become clear that it offers a cure that is worse than the present diseased system. But unless single-payer supporters are tough enough to take on the false solution of managed competition as a change that is worse than no change, all U.S. citizens may become victims of this cruel hoax.
The charges of White House deals to gain NAFTA votes were made in a report by Public Citizen and Citizen Trade Campaign, and separately by Greenpeace and an article by the Washington Times.
NAFTA was approved in the House of Representatives by a vote of 234 to 200 on November 19, 1993.
The deals made by the Clinton administration during the all out lobbying blitz on Capitol Hill over NAFTA include a deal to buy two extra C-17 Military Cargo Planes with Representative Eddie Bernice Johnson, D-Texas. According to the Public Citizen/Citizen Trade Campaign report, the deal will cost the taxpayers $1.4 billion.
The report said that new Representative Johnson’s support for NAFTA was tied to a commitment from the Administration to buy six C-17s for 1994, instead of the previous plan to buy four. The C-17 is built in Johnson’s South Dallas district. The much-maligned C-17 program has design flaws which have caused its cargo doors to open unexpectedly in midflight and wings to buckle in flight testing. The program is five years behind schedule and billions of dollars over budget.
A deal with Florida vegetable growers gave $16 million for the completion of an agricultural research center in Fort Pierce, Florida. In addition, the Administration promised to protect Florida vegetable growers during the current GATT negotiations. Four Florida Representatives were targeted with the vegetable deal.
Greenpeace was sharply critical of part of the Administration’s deal with the Florida growers which allowed the continued use of an ozone-depleting fumigant, methyl bromide, which the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) had planned to phase out this year. The White House agreed to delay restrictions on the use of the methyl bromide until after the year 2000.
Methyl bromide is widely used by Florida growers, and is manufactured in the United States exclusively by two Arkansas companies, according to Greenpeace. The two companies produce half of the world’s methyl bromide.
Under the Montreal Protocol, the United States has committed to freezing methyl bromide production at 1991 levels by 1995. Under the Clean Air Act, the United States has separately committed to a complete phaseout of methyl bromide by 2000.
"If Bill Clinton is willing to sell out the ozone layer for a few votes, how can we trust him when he tells us NAFTA is good for the environment?" said Melanie Duchin, of Greenpeace. "Five more years of unlimited methyl bromide production means more ozone destruction and more Americans at risk of skin cancer - but to Bill Clinton, it’s just pork-barrel politics as usual."
According to Duchin, the side deals made by the White House, "also reveal the hollowness of the so-called ‘side agreements’ to NAFTA, which the administration cynically tried to push as environmental protection."
Other examples of pork cited by the public interest groups and the Washington Times include:
o The construction of a Center for the Study of Trade in the Western Hemisphere which is expected to cost the taxpayers $10 million. The Center will be built in the Austin, Texas district of Representative J.J. Pickle, D-Texas. The $10 million is authorized in the NAFTA implementing legislation, but is not provided for in the Administration’s $2.5 billion NAFTA funding package, thus adding to the billions of dollars in unfunded NAFTA costs.
o The Clinton administration delayed the announcement of a package of federal range land reforms which included raising grazing fees, after the Washington Times reported that 10 House Republicans were threatening to oppose NAFTA in retaliation for the Clinton administration’s grazing- reform fees. Fees were to be raised from $1.86 per animal per month to $4.28 per animal. The Clinton administration has reopened negotiations on the plan.
o The construction of an estimated $10 million bridge that would span an East Houston Railyard. The bridge was targeted to get the vote of Representative Gene Green, D-Texas.
o The Clinton Administration has offered to reduce the proposed $.75 a pack cigarette tax in an effort to sway the votes of tobacco-state representatives. This could cost the taxpayers $4 billion in lost tax revenues that was to be proposed for health programs. This offer was designed to appeal to Representatives from tobacco states such as North Carolina and Kentucky.
o The Department of Transportation announced plans to award two lucrative international airline travel routes to London to companies based in Raleigh-Durham, North Carolina and Nashville, Tennessee. Three Representatives who lobbied hard for the air routes came out in support for NAFTA - Representatives David Price, D-North Carolina, Tim Valentine, D-North Carolina and Bob Clement, D- Tennessee.
o A deal to protect U.S. sugar producers from Mexican imports would void any effects NAFTA may have on either country. The deal targeted lawmakers in Florida, and sugar beet-producing states in the Midwest and West.
o An agreement to consider the district of Representative Lewis Payne, D-Virginia, as a site of a National Institute of Standards and Technology.
o A promise to press the Canadian government on limiting subsidies for a chemical plant in Quebec, for Representative Benjamin Cardin, D-Maryland;
o An agreement to investigate Canadian subsidies for wheat and peanuts, for four Representatives from Oklahoma and Texas.
- Ben Lilliston
Since the late 1980s, when community concern arose over 6,000 used tires disposed of on- reserve, waste ranging from medical detritus to industrial sludge has been discovered at a score of unofficial on-reserve dumpsites.
And the Six Nations reserve is not alone in being a receptacle for off-reserve waste. In an era of free trade, when differing national environmental standards may come to determine the ebbs and flows of waste disposal, reserves throughout Canada have become havens for other people’s garbage.
Reserves have been called "pollution vacuums" by the prestigious Canadian Council of Environment Ministers. And a report prepared by the Canadian government’s Department of Indian Affairs in 1991 and released under Canada’s Access to Information law in the summer of 1993 notes that "reserves are increasingly viewed by outside interests as potential sites for disposal and recycling enterprises."
Dumping on reserves: protected by law
Under the Canadian Constitution, Indian lands are the exclusive domain of the federal government. As a result, the relatively comprehensive provincial environmental laws do not apply to Native lands, making them an attractive dumping ground.
Waste disposal on reserves is regulated only by a set of outdated federal provisions. The Indian Affairs Department, in its 1991 report, calls the 20-year old waste regulations "worthless." Michel Blondin, implementation manager at Indian Affairs’ Environmental Directorate, offers a more tempered assessment. "We don’t hide that the regulations we have are weak in dealing with illegal dumping," says Blondin. Yet, "the government has the power to bring a violator to court and, if the individual is found guilty, obtain a court order requiring a clean-up." The regulations do require potential dumpers to acquire permits before proceeding, Blondin points out.
James Ransom, on staff at Canada’s national Native coalition, the Assembly of First Nations, says the government deserves no credit for its regulatory record. According to Ransom, the "open season" on reserve waste dumping is a function, not only of the inadequacy of the regulations, but of the government’s lackluster enforcement record.
Even the 1991 Indian Affairs report supports the view that federal oversight of waste disposal is insufficient. According to the report, the permit requirement contained in the regulations has never been enforced. This is confirmed by Vivian Bomberry, the Six Nations chief’s executive assistant. "When the illegal dumping controversy first started," says Bomberry, "we requested that Indian Affairs enforce the federal regulations, and they wouldn’t."
A reserve government has few options in such a situation. As James Ransom notes, very few Native governments have the resources to monitor potentially hazardous dumping on reserves properly. Moreover, their capacity to move on the issue is curtailed by the Federal government’s Indian Act. "The Indian Act undermines your capacity to do things in your own territory," says Bomberry. "When you try to implement controls, along comes Indian Affairs and says, ‘We’re sorry, but that’s contrary to regulations under the Indian Act.’ Then when you say, ‘Alright, then come out and enforce them,’ nothing happens."
Exploiting the Vacuum
The companies whose waste was found on-reserve at Six Nations may not have been aware of the content of the Indian Act and its archaic waste regulations. But those eventually nabbed by the irate reserve government (acting beyond its legal authority in bringing charges under the regulations) knew a regulatory vacuum when they saw one. "What companies were aware of," says Bomberry, "is that in order to take waste to a site off-reserve, they have to get prior approval and pay tipping fees."
The discrepancy between relatively stringent municipal and provincial regulations and the federal reserve regime provides an easy path to corporate savings. For the Natives contracted to haul and dump the waste, the legal inconsistency can mean a handsome profit. Most of the haulers contracted to dump on the Six Nations reserve were what Bomberry calls "unscrupulous Indian entrepreneurs." Many of the Natives who work with the dumpers are unemployed, and for them the waste flow provides a ready supplement to a small income. Companies are often willing to pay a per unit fee to residents willing to store refuse such as tires. The Six Nations situation is typical, according to the Indian Affairs Environmental Directorate’s Blondin. Blondin says he is unaware of an instance where a company dumped on-reserve without Native involvement.
It is evident that lax federal regulation is not the only thing sucking waste onto reserves. In Canada’s impoverished Native reserves, the economic benefits of accepting other people’s waste are significant and they accrue to reserve governments as well as to individuals. In Ransom’s estimation, Native leaders are often drawn into potentially deleterious waste projects by the promise of profit and remain ill-informed of the likely consequences of their activities.
A number of reserves - including Six Nations - have turned down waste disposal firms seeking to set up operations in order to exploit the regulatory gap. But in other instances, reserve governments have been accused by on-reserve environmentalists of lining their pockets by permitting suspect waste disposal operations. In still other cases, reserve governments, operating above-board and in concert with their citizens, have actively sought out waste management contracts in the hope of luring capital and jobs to Indian lands.
Though legal, these initiatives have often drawn fierce opposition from nearby communities. The struggles between reserves and the surrounding provinces over waste management go to the heart of the Native self-determination debate. The Sumas incinerator project in British Columbia is a case in point. When Larry Ned, general manager of the Native-owned and operated Sumas Clay Products brick factory, approached John Bennett, president of Bennett Remediation Services, several years ago, he thought a Bennett-run oily-waste incinerator would bring economic benefit to a reserve with an 80 percent unemployment rate. In Ned’s estimation, the incinerator was a "great deal," one that would provide employment to 30 of the Sumas reserve’s residents and surplus electricity that the reserve could sell to British Columbia’s provincial power utility.
Bennett believed the $4 million incinerator proposal represented a win-win situation. It would enable British Columbia to dispose of the oil-contaminated soil found throughout the province without relying on an expensive export arrangement with Oregon. Moreover, the Sumas site was ideal from a technical perspective. "The area was good," says Bennett. "It was on a good clay base. It was far enough from any other community. It wouldn’t bother anybody. The Native band had the labor and needed jobs. Everybody was to gain."
The reserve government agreed, and in 1992, it approved the project.
But nearby off-reserve communities, weary of pollution flowing eastward from Vancouver, had instituted a ban on all incinerators and were appalled to find a different standard applying on-reserve.
Many critics argue the Sumas project provided a means for Bennett to circumvent the strict off- reserve regulations. "The company specifically chose Indian land to avoid municipal by-laws," says Chris Rolfe, of Canada’s West Coast Environmental Law Association.
Bennett denies any suggestion that he was responding to legal discrepancies. "It was written into the incinerator contract that we had to comply with federal and provincial laws, whichever were the stronger," he says. Moreover, despite community fears to the contrary, Bennett insists that the incinerator was not a public health threat. "Our permit wouldn’t have allowed really hazardous substances. We were going to burn what you burn in your car: oil. Our emissions wouldn’t have bothered anyone. The Native brick plant is more of a hazard than this incinerator. The Indians had to decide the issue, and they wanted it. The surrounding communities were miles away."
Yet, the off-reserve opposition pursued its challenge to the project, and Indian Affairs stepped in, demanding that its own initial environmental study be supplemented by another report. This additional assessment, prepared by an independent consultant, came out in favor of the project.
In the face of continued off-reserve resistance, however, the Minister of Indian Affairs called for a full Federal Environmental Assessment. Bennett, having already invested more than $350,000 on the project, balked at the prospect of another year’s delay and at the $100,000 price tag of the study. "There was no commitment that we would be able to proceed after the study," says Bennett. "The whole issue had become purely political. We felt that pursuing the project was a poor gamble."
The project’s demise left a particularly sour taste in Larry Ned’s mouth. In an angry letter to Indian Affairs, Ned wrote "Our fight for the future of our people will triumph over your department’s feeble machinations."
Other People’s Waste
The issue of waste on reserves will remain in the public spotlight as Canadian Native people obtain greater autonomy from the federal government.
For the reserves which are seeking greater authority in beefing up and enforcing lax federal environmental rules, self-determination may mean fewer instances of illegal dumping. At Six Nations, for example, the reserve has obtained the federal government’s grudging approval for a new waste by-law. Enforced by local police, the new law, in effect since May, has seemingly put the midnight dumpers out of business.
In other instances, however, reserve governments focusing on short-term economic gain may choose to accept other people’s garbage. The Sumas government, for example, has said that it would go ahead with the incinerator if it should ever escape the "paternal grasp" of Indian Affairs.
These differing approaches make the future of Canada’s Native reserves unclear. Some observers, like Chris Rolfe, worry that the Native self-determination debate might leave behind environmental concerns. "Most aboriginal people don’t want to see waste disposed of on their property," says Rolfe. "When greater self-government treaties are negotiated, environmental standards should be dealt with." But others believe that Indian autonomy must include allowing Native people to make their own waste management decisions. Native entrepreneurs like Larry Ned will continue to view other people’s waste as a viable business opportunity for reserves.
Whoever the decision makers, the struggle between those who wish to safeguard the environment and those who hope to bring economic development to the reserves through waste management will continue.
by Russell Mokhiber
EARLIER THIS YEAR, U.S. Attorney General Janet Reno, the nation’s chief law enforcement officer, announced that she would hold weekly press briefings in her office at the Justice Department in Washington, D.C.
Every Thursday morning since, at about 9:30 a.m., assembled reporters begin asking General Reno questions.
Ask a question about street crime, and Reno will respond with a two-minute lecture touching on all aspects of criminology and criminal justice, from prisons, to drugs, guns, deterrence, retribution, child rearing, what works, what doesn’t - she hits the street crime question out of the park, every time.
Ask a question about corporate crime and wrongdoing, and Reno looks at you like you are some kind of freak. She says something about white-collar crime being a top priority and moves quickly on to the next question.
Whom does the Attorney General offend when she talks about street crime? No one that matters politically. On the other hand, if she talks about corporate crime and violence, she risks offending the corporate establishment.
Reno knows this. That’s why she is very careful - she almost freezes - on the rare occasions she is asked a question about corporate crime and wrongdoing.
Reno’s failure to confront corporate crime and violence head on reflects a general aversion by the Clinton administration to admit to an ugly reality - corporate crime and violence inflict far more damage on society than all street crime combined.
When, for example, the U.S. Congress passed its $22 billion crime bill late this year, a measure that would add 100,000 police to U.S. streets to combat street crime, not a word was included about corporate crime, nor was a penny appropriated to combat corporate violence.
Yet, in terms of bodies, corporate violence exacts a far greater toll than street crime. Just one tobacco company, for example, arguably kills and injures more people than all the street thugs in the United States combined.
Who are these corporate and white-collar thugs? They can be ordinary people. Or they can be quite different.
In his book, Without Conscience: The Disturbing World of Psychopaths Among Us, Dr. Robert Hare, a professor of psychology at the University of British Columbia, makes the argument that, like some street criminals, white-collar criminals can also be psychopaths. "They have charming smiles on their faces and a trustworthy tone to their voices, but never - and this is a guarantee - do they wear warning bells around their necks," Hare writes. "They often manage to avoid prison, and even if caught and convicted they usually receive a light sentence and an early parole, only to continue where they left off."
Whether psychopathic, psychotic or simply ordinary people doing extraordinary things, white- collar thugs dominated the political economy in 1993 - unnoticed by the pundits and politicians. (Imagine, a Sunday talk show host stating "Issue One: The death penalty for corporate crime. Morton, yes or no?") Public corruption, pollution, procurement fraud, financial fraud and occupational homicide inflict serious damage on workers, consumers, citizens and the environment.
The ten worst list, now in its sixth year, is Multinational Monitor’s yearly effort to bring a touch of balance to the public debate over crime, violence, justice, right and wrong, good and evil.
IN 1985, WORKERS AT DIAMOND WALNUT in Stockton, California agreed to accept pay cuts of 30 percent and more. The walnut processing workers, mostly women and minorities earning $5 to $10 an hour, were concerned about the financial condition of the company and the firm’s thinly veiled threats to move its operations to Mexico. "The managers said if we stuck by them, they would stick by us," said Cynthia Zavala, one of the workers. "Some people ended up taking cuts as high as 40 percent."
In 1991, with Diamond’s gross profit hitting a record $171 million, the company called on the same workers to take another cut. "The company wanted to cut our pay even more," Zavala told the Senate Labor Committee earlier this year. "They offered a small hourly increase of 10 cents, but they were going to turn right around and take twice that much away by making us pay $30 a month for our health coverage."
The workers, organized by the Teamsters union, drew the line, said no and, on September 4, 1991, went on strike.
Diamond immediately brought in permanent replacement workers. "Diamond simply ‘replaced’ these employees, hauling in unskilled people so desperate for jobs that they’d take these tainted ones and take them at minimum wage," commented Jim Hightower, the former Texas commissioner of agriculture. "The big corporations can cut your wages, chop your benefits, and if you complain, put you on the street faster than a hog eats supper."
As the months went by, many of the strikers began losing their homes and cars. Some couldn’t afford health insurance. Earlier this year, one of the workers died without health insurance.
The federal government’s response to this travesty: taxpayer assistance to the walnut industry. The Diamond Walnut-controlled California Walnut Commission receives millions of dollars a year in Agriculture Department subsidies to promote its walnuts in Europe. The arrangement directly benefits Diamond because it controls a major share of U.S. walnut exports.
A company spokesperson argued earlier this year that Diamond doesn‘t really have any choice but to cut labor costs in order to keep its position as the nation’s largest walnut processor. "We were paying wages and benefits that were way, way, way out ahead of all of our competing processors in the walnut industry," said Samie McBride, the Diamond spokesperson. "And at the same time agriculture and the economy were experiencing some downward pressure, and there‘s lots of price pressure in the walnut industry as well."
The National Consumers League (NCL) recently joined an international boycott of Diamond Walnut. "Consumers care about working conditions," said Linda Golodner, president of NCL. "They care about fairness to those who process and package foods. We urge all consumers to stay away from Diamond walnuts until the strike is over."
SOME WESTERN DOCTORS have advised women that small breasts are a disease that need to be "cured."
Big corporations took advantage of the big-breast mania, and began marketing breast implants. Today, an estimated 1 million to 1.5 million women are walking around with breast implants.
Dow Corning manufactured breast implants made out of silicone gel. The problem with these is that the gel allegedly tends to leak out of the implant and cause diseases in the women.
About 10,000 women in the United States have filed claims against Dow Corning and the other responsible parties in the breast implant disaster, alleging that the implants made them sick and, in some cases, permanently and totally disabled.
"I represent a lawyer who is 35 years old, who has lost a law practice," says Sal Liccardo, a lawyer in San Francisco who represents women suing Dow Corning and other manufacturers. "She is totally and permanently disabled for life with severe autoimmune disease - scleroderma. I represent another woman with a multiple sclerosis-like disease. Another with a lupus-like disease. ... These diseases are every bit as bad as cancer. They kill and they totally disable."
Dow "developed an evil empire, selling their fraudulent materials all over the world," says Cybil Goldrich, co-founder of the national silicone information clearinghouse, the Command Trust Network. "Along with their parent companies (Dow Chemical and Corning Inc.), they should remain responsible for the evil that [they] did."
Dow denies a link between breast implants and disease. "We’re encouraged by the growing body of scientific evidence from research done outside of Dow Corning that shows no conclusive link between breast implants and disease," said Gary E. Anderson, Dow executive vice-president. "However, a settlement would move the implant controversy from a divisive issue to a responsible resolution for all parties."
Earlier this year, Public Citizen urged the federal government to bring criminal charges against Dow Corning for filing a false report on the safety of silicone breast implants. "We believe that Dow Corning violated federal law by deliberately withholding safety data on its silicone used in medical devices, especially breast implants," wrote Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group in a letter to Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Commissioner David Kessler. "Because of the potential harm of serious illness facing tens if not hundreds of thousands of women who have received silicone breast implants since the time of filing the false report, we believe that the FDA should seek criminal prosecution of the company and responsible Dow Corning officials."
Dow Corning withdrew from the silicone implant market in March 1992. Public Citizen alleges that Dow Corning did not disclose studies showing that liquid silicone could cause autoimmune and respiratory problems when the documents were first requested by the FDA in 1989. The FDA finally received the documents two years after they were initially requested. The FDA then elected to restrict the marketing of silicone gel implants to a relatively small number of people.
In 1988, the FDA asked Dow Corning to identify all studies in which any form of silicone was injected into test animals. According to Public Citizen, when Dow Corning responded to the request, it excluded some studies that the company had previously conducted. "How many more safety studies has Dow Corning not revealed to the FDA?" Wolfe asked.
Dow Corning announced earlier this year that it had reached a tentative settlement with accommodating plaintiffs’ lawyers to settle the breast implant cases for $4.75 billion. But dissident plaintiff lawyers complained that the settlement was unfair and was hatched in secret. "We have never had a chance to present our views and our opinions on any position before it was taken up with Dow Corning," Sal Liccardo complained. "We were just fed back a final deal, and they tried to jam it down our throats."
Norman Anderson, a Johns Hopkins University professor of surgery, an expert on health hazards related to breast implants, called the settlement proposal "seriously flawed" and urged plaintiffs lawyers to reject it. Anderson estimated that the medical damages from breast implants could hit $169 billion, more than 35 times the amount proposed by Dow Corning. He said that the Dow proposal "offers a 2 cents on the dollar solution which amounts to little more than sanctioning the evasion of corporate responsibility."
Public Citizen’s Sidney Wolfe believes that someone should go to jail. "Justice demands that the FDA seek the most serious enforcement action - criminal prosecution - against Dow Corning Corporation and its responsible officials who knowingly withheld this vital safety information from the FDA," Wolfe said. "We hope the large fines and prison terms that Dow Corning Corp. and its officials will face will deter other medical device firms from withholding adverse information about their products requested by the FDA."
DUPONT IS NO STRANGER to Multinational Monitor’s Ten Worst list. The company made the list in 1991 for being the nation’s worst polluter. For years, environmentalists have been wrestling with DuPont, seeking to potty train this multinational giant, largely to no avail. This year, DuPont made the Council on Economic Priorities’ list of the nation’s worst environmental offenders.
Also this year, hundreds of DuPont’s customers were driven to litigation over a DuPont fungicide that caused what the customers claim was the worst human-made agricultural disaster in history. More than 500 farmers around the country who purchased Benlate DF, a fungicide, from DuPont, are alleging that the product was contaminated with a herbicide that killed their plants. DuPont pulled Benlate DF off the market in March 1991.
At first, DuPont decided to pay growers for their crop damage - the company paid growers $500 million in voluntary settlements. But then, in November 1992, the payments stopped. DuPont claims that company research exonerated Benlate as the cause of plant damage.
Earlier this year, in a bizarre public relations ploy, DuPont Chairman Edgar Woolard went before a battery of reporters in Delaware and issued a public challenge to farmers who were angry at the company for not compensating them for their crop damage: test Benlate on plants - if the tests showed that the Benlate caused the damage, DuPont will pay for the alleged damage. If not, the farmers must agree to withdraw the lawsuit.
Neal Pope, an Atlanta lawyer who is representing 14 farmers suing DuPont over alleged Benlate- related crop damage, called the DuPont challenge a "public relations ploy, pure and simple."
Pope said that it would take about three years to decide on a protocol for the tests proposed by DuPont.
"I have my own challenge before six independent jurors," Pope said.
Indeed, jurors have not been kind to DuPont. Earlier this year, jurors in Florida awarded one farmer $500,000 for the loss of the tomato crop he planted in 1991 and $2.5 million to another for Benlate-related damage of exotic plants and shrubs. The Florida Agriculture Commissioner urged DuPont to "stop dragging our growers through the courts at tremendous expense and needless aggravation." In Georgia, as jurors neared the second day of deliberations in a Benlate case, DuPont agreed to a $4.25 million settlement.
EARLIER THIS YEAR, Jack in the Box hamburgers allegedly killed four children and left more than 500 others sick from food poisoning in Washington, Nevada and California. Jack in the Box and other fast food companies have been complicit in neglecting a food safety crisis that threatens children and other consumers around the country. Thirty lawsuits arising from the food poisoning disaster are pending against Jack in the Box. The company has settled 22 others.
"It is no safer today to eat hamburger than it was the day my son did and died 12 days ago," Michael Nole told a Congressional hearing in September of this year. Nole is father of Michael James Nole, who was the first child to die in Seattle from the Jack in the Box tainted meat. "What is it going to take before something is done about the way the USDA inspects meat?"
At the same hearing, Dorothy Dolan described her two daughters’ fight to stay alive after e. coli poisoning. Her four year-old daughter is recovering from a mild stroke because of the e. coli-related illness. "I cry and feel sick to think another child and family has to go through what we have been through," Dolan said. "We cannot continue to let our children suffer and die from something that can and should be prevented, from something that is stamped USDA approved."
The meat, tainted by e. coli bacteria, came from Jack in the Box restaurants in the state of Washington. The outbreak of e. coli was traced to undercooked, contaminated meat sold at the fast food restaurants. Inspectors have estimated that as many as 40,000 hamburgers were sold from potentially contaminated shipments of beef.
The public was informed about the tainted beef on January 17. The illness caused from e. coli has an incubation period of as long as 10 days. According to the Beyond Beef Coalition, approximately 6,000 cases of e. coli poisoning are reported each year. In 10 to 15 percent of the reported cases, the victims suffer serious kidney and heart illnesses.
The present U.S. Department of Agriculture regulatory system does not require examination of beef for the presence of e. coli and other coliform bacterial contamination.
In September 1993, the Physicians Committee for Responsible Medicine said that the USDA was doing "virtually nothing" to improve meat safety since the disaster.
"It became clear that the USDA’s main interest was not in cleaning up meat products, but rather in cleaning up the image of American agriculture, while brushing aside consumer worries," said Dr. Neal Barnard, president of the Committee. "It has been eight months since the tragedy in Washington state and virtually nothing has been done to prevent future episodes."
In response to the food poisonings, Jack in the Box said that it would pay hospital costs of those customers taken ill, increased cooking times on its hamburgers, switched to a new meat supplier, sued its old meat supplier and agreed to establish a medical monitoring and trust fund program for victims of its bad meat.
Some With a Fountain Pen
IT IS ONE THING for a big multinational corporation to rip off individual investors of hundreds of millions of dollars. It is another thing to get caught red-handed, and offer a 2-cents-on-the-dollar settlement. That’s what Prudential Securities did this year.
Between 1983 and 1990, Prudential raised over $1.4 billion from the sale of 35 "income funds" limited partnerships. The partnerships allowed investors to purchase interest in proven oil- and gas- producing properties for the purpose of receiving cash distributions. Approximately 137,000 account holders purchased interests in the partnerships.
According to an exposé in the Los Angeles Times earlier this year, Prudential sent materials to brokers which described the energy funds as extremely safe investments, comparing them to the safety of a long-term certificate of deposit.
Prudential initially made big profits in selling the limited partnerships. According to the Times articles, fees and commissions charged to investors by Prudential and Graham Royalty Ltd. - an oil and gas firm that was the general partner in the energy partnerships - totaled $388 million, or almost 27 percent of the initial $1.45 billion investment.
But while Prudential and Graham were earning those big commissions and fees, the approximately 137,000 investors lost more than half of their original $1.45 billion energy partnership investment. Some of the investors, including many elderly people and retirees, lost their life savings.
Greg Fleming, a Houston attorney representing a large group of victimized investors, claims that Prudential intentionally misrepresented the partnerships to the public. "All you have to do is compare what Prudential was telling the public with what they were telling the Securities and Exchange Commission," Fleming said. "We’re looking forward to proving this case in court."
Fleming and others rejected an early settlement proposed by Prudential, a settlement that would be worth close to 2.1 cents on the investment dollar. "We thought it was ridiculous," Fleming said.
Then, in October 1993, the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a lawsuit against Prudential, charging that the company falsely sold the limited partnerships as "safe, high-yield investments."
Prudential settled the SEC case, agreeing to put $330 million into a fund to compensate investors. The company will pay $10 million in fines to the SEC, up to $26 million in penalties to the states and a $5 million penalty to the National Association of Securities Dealers.
SEC chair Arthur Levitt called the settlement "by far the largest monetary settlement in a retail securities fraud case ever."
"We are pleased to bring this difficult situation to a close in a manner that fully recognizes the valid claims of investors who may have been sold limited partnerships in the 1980s that were improperly marketed or unsuitable for their investment needs," said Hardwick Simmons, president and chief executive officer of Prudential Securities. "The creation of this fund represents our fundamental commitment to stand behind our clients and respond to their legitimate concerns about the limited partnerships."
But lawyers representing individual investors who are suing called the settlement inadequate and said they will continue to pursue their legal claims in the courts, and the state of Texas refused to settle its case with Prudential.
Criminal investigations are reportedly being pursued by U.S. Attorneys offices in New York and Dallas and by the district attorney in Dallas.
MORE THAN 1,000 PEOPLE in the United States die every day from diseases related to cigarette smoking. That means that tobacco companies lose 1,000 customers a day. In an effort to replace the customers that have been killed, the tobacco companies must hook more and more children. One marketing strategy is to use cartoons to sell cigarettes.
When RJR Nabisco, the makers of Camel cigarettes, and the creators of drug pusher extraordinaire, Joe Camel, made the Monitor’s Ten Worst list in 1990, Joe Tye, founder of the grassroots group Stop Teenage Addiction to Tobacco (STAT) told us this about RJR: "The company has been so brazen in its attempt to recruit children to become nicotine addicts, so outrageous in its efforts to deceive smokers into believing that they can continue to smoke without personal harm, that ‘corporate evil’ is the only term that properly describes their behavior."
The evil has not subsided since that first report. But thanks to the vigorous citizen action of STAT and others around the country, law enforcement officials have begun to take note. In September 1993, Attorneys General from 27 states called on the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to ban RJR’s Joe Camel advertising campaign, charging that it encourages children to smoke.
"Cigarette smoking by children is a dangerous public health problem," said Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger. "Children are too young to make informed choices about smoking or to purchase cigarettes legally. The ‘Joe Camel’ advertising campaign is unfair and against the public interest because it encourages smoking by children."
The FTC is currently investigating the Joe Camel campaign. The FTC’s staff had previously recommended that the agency ban the Joe Camel campaign.
Despite a general decline in the percentage of adult smokers, smoking by children has increased. In 1991-92, there was a 12 percent increase in the number of junior high school smokers. Since the Joe Camel campaign was first introduced in 1987, Camel’s share of the under-18 market has risen from 0.5 percent to 32.8 percent. "The dramatic jump in Camel’s share of the under 18-market demonstrates, sadly, the effectiveness of their campaign," Harshbarger said. Each of the states that signed onto a letter to the FTC urging a ban have enacted laws which prohibit the sale of cigarettes to children under the age of 18.
RJR denies that the Joe Camel cartoon ad campaign is aimed at those under 18. Instead, the company insists that the campaign is aimed primarily at those who smoke a competing brand, Marlboros. But the statistics refute RJR’s denials. Camel’s one-third share of the illegal children’s market contrasts sharply with its 4.4 percent share of the adult market.
In November 1993, in Miami, Florida, a number of tobacco company executives gave sworn testimony that tobacco does not conclusively cause cancer, that smoking is not addictive and that tobacco advertising does not target new smokers. The sworn depositions, reported in the Miami Herald, were shocking testimony to the ability of tobacco executives to deny reality. Martin Orlowsky, former vice- president of RJR, who twice tried to quit smoking, testified that he does "not believe" that cigarettes are addictive, based on "my own personal experience," the Herald reported.
Mainstream economists, about 85 percent of all economists, believe that when the four largest firms of a particular market hold 50 percent or more of that market, then the industry is highly concentrated and prices will tend to be well above the level they would be if the industry was effectively competitive.
The past 20 years, however, saw the rise of the right-wing fringe in economics - the Chicago School. The Chicago School professes that big is better, that the more consolidated and concentrated an industry, the better.
The right-wing fringe was given credence in the United States with the corporatist presidencies of Reagan and Bush. Monopolists and oligopolists fared well during this era, and all signs indicate that a most dangerous proposed merger, TCI/Bell Atlantic, will go unchallenged by the corporatist Clinton presidency.
TCI (Tele-Communications Inc.) is the nation’s largest cable company. The company currently has exclusive access to well over 20 percent of all U.S. cable homes. The proposed merger between TCI and Bell Atlantic could expand that even further. If approved by federal antitrust authorities, the merger would give the resulting company access to half of all U.S. cable homes.
Competitors and consumer advocates are concerned that if the merger gains approval, TCI will leverage its monopolistic control over local franchise services (the conduit) to obtain monopolistic control over cable programming channels (the content). Consumer advocates point out that since the cable industry is not regulated as a common carrier, the two large franchise owners, TCI and Time-Warner, can clearly make or break a programming service.
This fear is not without foundation. TCI has already abused its market power. TCI and Time- Warner, both large shareholders in Turner Broadcasting , which owns Cable News Network, effectively blocked General Electric from offering its CNBC channel as an all news network. "If GE ... can be kept out of a market by TCI or Time-Warner , what can a much smaller independent firm hope for?" asked a number of consumer activists in a letter to the Justice Department Antitrust Division calling on the cops to block the TCI/Bell Atlantic merger.
Viacom, the owner of dozens of cable franchises in addition to popular channels such as MTV and Showtime, filed an antitrust action earlier this year against Time-Warner and TCI. In the lawsuit, Viacom claims that as the nation’s largest owner of local cable franchises, TCI "refused to carry [Viacom] programming services" and "extracted onerous terms as a condition of carriage" while they "unfairly favored their own programming services." According to the lawsuit, without access to TCI’s cable systems, "cable network programmers cannot achieve the ‘critical mass’ of viewers needed to attract national advertising or a sufficient number of subscribers required to make the network viable."
Viacom claims that TCI said it would "crucify" Viacom’s Showtime and Movie Channel services if Viacom did not agree to "extortionate concessions."
"Given TCI’s track record of anticompetitive abuses, it is alarming that they are proposing to merge with Bell Atlantic, providing the new merged entity with even greater power," wrote consumer advocate Ralph Nader, former Federal Communications Commission Commissioner Nicholas Johnson and other consumer advocates in a letter to Antitrust Chief Anne Bingaman. "In the absence of more effective common carrier protection, the larger combined market power of TCI and Bell Atlantic will adversely affect independent providers of information and lead to less competition and less diversity in information services markets, harming consumers."
Johnson called the proposed merger "the most serious blow to the First Amendment in the last 200 years."
TCI did not return calls seeking comment. But it has said that the merged company would have a phone or cable wire running into only 22 percent of the country’s households, a concentration it believes is too low to raise antitrust concerns. And a lawyer for the company said earlier this month that "contrary to accepted mythology, TCI really has a very small investment in programming."
UP UNTIL 1988, workers at the A.E. Staley company facility in Decatur, Illinois, had considered the company a reasonably good employer. But in 1988, Staley, which makes corn-based sweeteners, was acquired by the British conglomerate, Tate & Lyle. Tate & Lyle owns sugar companies Domino, Redpath and GW.
With Tate & Lyle came a union-busting philosophy. Staley began to signal its new intentions when it imported a new director of labor relations from an International Paper facility in Maine where 1,200 workers were forced on strike and then permanently replaced. The union alleges the company also hired the pit-bull of union busting firms, Seyfarth, Shaw, Fairweather & Geraldson.
When the 800 Staley workers, members of Local 837 of the Allied Industrial Workers of America, began negotiations on a new contract in August 1992, Staley insisted on eliminating protections the union had gained over decades of bargaining.
The union refused to agree to the givebacks, pointing out that in 1991, Tate & Lyle earned $400 million in profits on sales of $5.5 billion - and that Staley was one of its biggest moneymakers. The company then declared an impasse and suspended key sections of the union contract, including the union security clause and dues check-off.
On June 27, 1993, the company locked out 760 union members, claiming that the workers had engaged in illegal activities, including sabotage, inside the facility.
A few weeks after the lockout, Staley invited local TV stations to tour the plant and witness the alleged sabotage. According to the Detroit-based monthly, Labor Notes, the evidence of sabotage was "slim."
Labor Notes reported that during the tour, Staley Executive Vice President J.P. Mohan displayed whistles and air horns that workers allegedly used over radios, valves that workers allegedly turned incorrectly and with malicious intent, and a headless canary that had found its way into some Staley product. All this, Staley claimed, was part of the in-plant union campaign.
The union denies the sabotage claims. Instead, it points out that Staley is the one that has engaged in dirty tricks and dirty business. In October 1993, the National Labor Relations Board cited Staley for unlawful surveillance of union members. The NLRB charged that the company wrote down license plate numbers of members of the local and videotaped workers while they were engaging in protected union activities. The Board ordered Staley to cease all electronic monitoring and surveillance.
In 1991, the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) fined Staley/Tate & Lyle $1.6 million for 298 violations of federal laws. In 1990, 44-year old Staley maintenance worker James Beals died after being overcome by toxic propylene oxide fumes. Beals, who was inside a cornstarch-processing tank making repairs at the time of his death, had complained only two hours earlier that "something has to be done about the propylene oxide problem, because tragedy is just around the corner."
Staley/Tate & Lyle needs to be reminded that union organizing is a legal activity, and that the lives of their employees are not expendable. One way to deal with union-busting thugs is to boycott their products. The union is calling for a boycott of Domino and GW sugar and a boycott of State Farm Insurance products. State Farm is a key financial ally of Staley.
FOR 20 YEARS, Texaco, the third largest U.S. oil company, pumped oil from the Ecuadoran rainforest, home to 300,000 Quichua, Siona, Secoya, Cofan, Shuar and Huaroni indigenous people. After extracting more than one billion barrels of crude oil, Texaco pulled out of Ecuador , leaving behind toxic waste pits, oil spills and poisoned communities.
In October 1993 these five indigenous groups sued the giant multinational, alleging damage to the rainforest from the company’s oil operations. "Texaco’s oil drilling in the Ecuadoran Amazon has created a catastrophe worse than the Exxon Valdez," said Joseph Kohn, a Philadelphia lawyer representing the tribes. "Texaco has essentially ruined what once was one of the most pristine forests in the world, with calamitous results for the inhabitants of the region."
The indigenous people allege that the company discharged more than 3,000 gallons of crude oil per day into the environment. "Before Texaco came to Ecuador, our rivers, lakes and streams had many fish, our waters were clean and there was ample game in the forest," said Arceliano Illanez, of the indigenous organization FCUNAE. "Now, our rivers are contaminated, the fish have disappeared and the animals have gone away."
A spokesperson for Texaco called the allegations in the complaint "outrageous and categorically untrue." The Texaco spokesperson said that the company "consistently operated under sound industry practices and complied with all laws and regulations in Ecuador."
But Cristobal Bonifaz, a lead attorney for the plaintiffs, charges that rather than pump unmarketable crude oil back into the wells, as is customary in the United States, Texaco dumped millions of gallons of crude oil into human-made lagoons in the region, causing massive contamination. The company also allegedly dumped water contaminated with crude oil into the rivers and wetlands and set the oil lagoons on fire.
"In an effort to gain greater profits, Texaco deliberately implemented drilling practices which had as their built-in waste disposal mechanism the constant dumping of crude oil into the environment," Bonifaz said.
Rainforest Action Network (RAN) has called for a boycott of all Texaco products, alleging that Ecuador is not an isolated example of Texaco’s plunder and pillage. According to RAN, in Burma, Texaco collaborates with the brutal Burmese military dictatorship in an offshore natural gas project. In order to construct a pipeline through the rainforest, the army has declared "free-fire zones" in which soldiers are authorized to shoot civilians, including members of the Karen hilltribe.
In Indonesia, pollution from Texaco’s Caltex operations has reportedly killed fish in Siak River tributaries, destroyed rubber trees near the streams, and caused skin diseases among Sungai Limau villagers. In England, activists are boycotting Texaco over allegations that the company is refusing to hire job applicants who are HIV positive or who refuse to have an HIV test.
The overall message from Texaco this year: you can’t trust your car, or anything else, with the man who wears the great big Texaco star.
IN DECEMBER 1992, Vice-President-elect Al Gore promised that one of the world’s largest incinerators, the one built by Waste Technology Industries in East Liverpool, Ohio, would not be permitted to operate until a full investigation of the facility had been completed.
Then, earlier this year, Al Gore and his boss, Bill Clinton, decided to conduct the study, but broke Al’s promise and allowed the incinerator to operate while the study was in progress.
The incinerator, which is permitted to emit lead, mercury and hundreds of other compounds, is located only 400 yards from an elementary school.
"The WTI facility is the worst siting decision I have seen in my 25 years of practice in public health," said public health expert Dr. David Ozonoff. "Locating a major hazardous waste incinerator 300 feet from the nearest residence and 1,100 feet from an elementary school with 400 children amounts to administrative incompetence if not malfeasance of office and does violence to common sense."
"It is a matter of fact that the likelihood of an accident resulting in a sudden release of toxic fumes into the atmosphere is high," Ozonoff said. "This carries a high potential for genuine and overwhelming catastrophe."
Despite herculean citizen protests, legal challenges from surrounding state governments (the facility sits on the border of Pennsylvania, Ohio and West Virginia) and Al Gore’s promises, one of the most dangerous incinerators in the country is up, running and polluting.
Why did Al Gore break his promise not to allow the incinerator to operate until a full investigation had been completed? One reason may be two men named Jackson Stephens and Robert Sussman.
Stephens is chair of Stephens Inc., a giant Little Rock-based investment firm. He was a major underwriter of Bill Clinton’s presidential campaign. Stephens Inc. was one of the original partners in the company that developed the East Liverpool incinerator. Earlier this year, the Nation magazine reported that Stephens "extended a $3.5 million line of credit to [Clinton’s] campaign through the Worthen Bank, which is partly owned by the Stephens family. The Clinton campaign deposited up to $55 million in federal election funds in this bank." "The man now ultimately responsible for EPA decisions on WTI is Deputy Administrator Robert Sussman, a law school classmate of Bill and Hillary Clinton," the Nation reported. "Sussman previously acted as legal counsel to the Chemical Manufacturers Association, at a time when two of its biggest clients, DuPont and BASF , were negotiating contracts to supply two-thirds of the waste to WTI."
Terri Swearingen, a registered nurse who lives in West Virginia, just across the border from the WTI facility, is justifiably outraged by Al Gore’s betrayal. She has led the fight to shut down the WTI incinerator. She believes the incinerator is illegal and unsafe.
Earlier this year, Swearingen organized a mass return of Gore’s best-selling "Earth in the Balance" back to Gore. (To participate in this ongoing protest, send Gore’s book, with your own message inscribed to: Terri Swearingen, RD 1, Box 365, Chester, West Virginia 26034.)
An interview with Pharis Harvey
Pharis Harvey is the executive director of the International Labor Rights Education and Research Fund in Washington, DC. He has worked for the past 14 years to broaden U.S. human rights law to include protection of workers rights and to secure compliance with the labor rights provisions in U.S. trade law. He is also the coordinator of the Alliance for Responsible Trade, a national coalition of labor, human rights, environmental, religious, agriculture and consumers organizations that advocates protection of environmental, labor and human rights standards in U.S. trade agreements.
Multinational Monitor: Could you describe the provisions of U.S. law that relate to international worker rights, and the extent to which those provisions are actually being applied?
Harvey: The major provisions are, first, the GSP law, the Generalized System of Preferences, which sets requirements for countries that want beneficiary status which means tariff-free access to U.S. markets for selected goods. It makes it necessary that they be taking steps to afford workers internationally recognized workers’ rights, including freedom of association, the right to organize and bargain collectively, freedom from forced labor, a minimum age of work for children, and acceptable conditions at work relating to hours, wages and health and safety. All fairly vague language, but there has built up since the law was passed in 1984, a fairly decent set of understandings about what those standards refer to, and an increasing reliance on international labor conventions to define those standards and to judge compliance, which is a very good development. The Bush administration was very unsympathetic to the law and did its best, in most instances, not to enforce the law with any trading partner of substance. But during the last couple of years, that began to change; and it is as much a product of the change in the administrators of the program as it is in anything else, so far as we can tell. They began to treat it with more seriousness, take petitions more seriously and investigate more seriously the kinds of abuses that were being documented by the petition program.
There is also a similar law that restricts access to overseas investment insurance for American companies in developing countries, under OPIC, the Overseas Private Investment Corporation. That program examines countries that are not in the GSP program and takes the rulings under GSP as guidance for countries that are. Under that program, we were able to get South Korea expelled from beneficiary status about three years ago, and we’ve been able to keep it expelled because they haven’t made any changes in their labor laws. It’s still excluded from the program because there hasn’t been any change. There’ve been other democratic changes in Korea, but not affecting labor.
The third law, one that has not yet been tested with a case, is a Section 301 definition that was added to the trade law. Section 301 defines unreasonable and unfair trading practices, and in 1988, we succeeded in getting an additional item added to the definition of these practices, which was the use of repression of labor rights for competitive advantage, and again, defining those labor rights in the terms of the GSP law. But there’s a large number of loopholes, and a great deal of room for presidential discretion, and it’s a slow and ponderous process.
And last year, after the National Labor Committee did the exposé of the Agency for International Development (AID) fostering labor repression in El Salvador , the appropriations bill was amended with Section 599 to require all AID programs to pass a test of whether they supported programs that repressed worker rights, or supported programs that had the effect of taking jobs out of the United States. It is quite likely that when the AID reform bill comes up next year, that will be made a permanent feature in the law.
We also got a working group established to determine rules for regulating labor rights in the international trade system. Unfortunately, the negotiators were the Reagan administration. They weren’t terribly interested in doing that, and so they did it with a smirk and a smile and a wink, and all the other countries quickly understood that this was being done simply because Congress had mandated it, and so there was no progress.
We decided in 1989 or 1990, that before we came back to GATT with this we needed to develop a stronger body of allies and support among Third World countries, so that the issue could be taken by them as something besides U.S. protectionism, which is how they interpreted it. So we’ve developed a good linkage with Mexican trade unions, that is, those that are not controlled by the government, to develop some conditionality on trade relating to labor rights. That work was responsible for Clinton’s making the promise that he did to negotiate a NAFTA side agreement on labor rights. Unfortunately, what they negotiated isn’t worth the effort they put into it.
MM: How do those independent Mexican unions feel about NAFTA?
Harvey: They are opposed to it. They see it as a way by which the current conditions of labor and wage suppression, and trade union suppression can be locked into place, without any positive change. They see it as a way of strengthening the hold on power of Salinas and a handful of his cronies who are now the recipients of a privatized Mexican economy without any democratic reform that would enable Mexican workers to have some say in the economic policy of the country. They are in favor of a trade agreement, and they are in favor of more trade, just as we are, but they believe that it has to be a part of an overall movement toward more democracy or it just strengthens the hand of an authoritarian government.
MM: How would NAFTA do that?
Harvey: It locks in existing labor relations by making it easier for U.S. companies simply to move - as they are doing with the maquiladoras - to Mexico, and produce goods under conditions where wages can be controlled by a combination of state-controlled unions and government wage setting, and where labor negotiations can be undermined, as they constantly are in Mexico, by the legal harassment of union-side lawyers, the arrest of people for extraneous charges and the use of the military on occasion to break up unions and strikes.
MM: But since that Mexican labor structure is already in place, what difference will NAFTA make?
Harvey: Well, part of the reason we have tariffs and import restrictions is to make sure that we’re not forced to compete with workers who are laboring under unfair conditions. If you break down all barriers to trade without setting in place some ground rules for the conditions under which things are made, you have the effect of undermining the progress that we’ve made in this country over the last century to establish some reasonably fair conditions for work and rules for labor union activity. Mexico has many of those same rules, but has a political system that has simply made those rules inoperable.
There are very few trade unions in Mexico that have been able to establish themselves as independent - there are a few, but they don’t have legal existence because the government won’t give it. Those unions point out that the situation of workers in Mexico has declined very drastically in the last decade; there has been an average 40-50 percent decline in wages since 1980, and a rapid increase in the number of farmers forced off their land in the last couple of years.
MM: But given the disparity between the two economies, the difference in wage levels, wouldn’t any other provisions guaranteeing worker rights still fail to solve the basic problem that companies would just take advantage of the disparity in order to pull wages in both countries down?
Harvey: If you see Mexico as permanently caught in being a Third World producer of goods with a cheap labor force, yes. But Mexico is always going to have to compete with China . Everybody is going to have to compete with China. If Mexico goes down the cheap wage road, it can’t compete with China. It’s a dead end for Mexico. Trying to set up a regional trade agreement with Mexico as sort of our own sort of domestic China won’t work in a global economy. If you had a wall around the region, maybe it would work, maybe you could have a high wage enclave in the United States and all the dirty work would be done in Mexico. But it won’t work in a global economy. Mexico really doesn’t have a choice if it wants to advance industrially, other than to build in the capability of wages that are commensurate with its productivity. South Korea now has wages that are about 35-40 percent the level of the United States in many industries. Mexico used to have wages that were about one third those of the United States. If Mexico took on deliberate policies, and if the U.S. worked with Mexico to take on deliberate policies, through increased wages, so that wage competition between us would be phased out, then Mexico could become part of a prosperous North American region. But otherwise, it’s caught in a vise. It can’t permanently be a cheap labor source for the United States. Mexico doesn’t exist as a permanent cheap wage solution as long as there are places like China where the wages are lower still. And the effort to make it such is likely to be self-defeating or to be a downward pressure on wages in the United States, so that harmonization comes by means of downward pressure here rather than upward pressure in Mexico.
MM: Does GATT work on the same principle as NAFTA?
Harvey: The GATT ideology says that the conditions under which products are made are irrelevant to trade. The condition of the products themselves is the only thing that matters. That ideology has been in ascendancy in the trade system since about 1948. We need to open up the trading system to the development of global rules that begin to mitigate some of the problems that are being created by the vast mobility of capital now. The computer revolution and the communication revolution have made it possible for companies to break up production into a hundred different pieces and to farm that production out wherever they can get the best possible deal, from a government willing to sell its land, its environment or its people. And that is having a globally deleterious effect on political systems, ecosystems and workers’ rights around the world. The vast increase in child labor, particularly in South Asia, is partly a product of this kind of bidding among nations to out-compete for cheap wages. Because of the NAFTA debate here, in places where free trade agreements are under negotiation, such as in Latin America with the Andean Pact, the U.S.- Chilean discussion, all of these discussions are now having the issues of environment and labor injected into them in some new ways.
The opponents of NAFTA, for the most part and with few exceptions, want to see a trading system with better rules, not fewer rules. They don’t want to see capital mobility enhanced without rules that protect capital exploitation from breaking down labor’s part in the productive process.
MM: Is there any way, practically speaking, to diminish capital mobility or control it in some way?
Harvey: The only thing I think you can do is to make it more responsible. While access to the U.S. market is still an incentive, then that is an effective way to make global capital more responsible. That’s what the GSP program is all about. We still have the opportunity in the United States, while we still have a major market share, to use those rules to try to get better behavior out of corporations that want to sell here. You also have ways to effect corporate behavior that are rooted in corporate image. Reebok and Nike spend more to protect or to advertise the image of their company than they do for the production of their product.
MM: Could you describe briefly how shoe production works in Indonesia ?
Harvey: There are about 25,000 workers in the shoe industry in Indonesia. They work for about seven or eight large companies that are about half Korean owned and half Indonesian owned, and make their product on consignment. So the same companies may be producing for both Reebok and Nike. Adidas is there, they’re all there. Converse is moving in. Converse has done a lot of production in the U.S., but they’re moving out now, to Indonesia or Australia .
MM: What are the wages and working conditions? What is it like for people who might want to unionize?
Harvey: Well, if they want to unionize, then the SPSI, the Indonesian government- controlled union, comes in and sets up the union for them.
Those who attempt genuine, free union organizing get fired, hauled off to jail or "disappear" and are occasionally killed.
Wages in the shoe industry in Indonesia tend to hover between 2-3,000 rupiahs, about a dollar to a dollar fifty per day. There was recently a work stoppage at Reebok.
Multinational Monitor: Last year, Reebok adopted a code of conduct regarding the factories in Indonesia. Has the company done anything concrete about implementing it?
Harvey: Well, I’m waiting. We did a lot of work with them on the code in August. And they made quite an extensive tour of all their plants to try and get an accurate picture, and Doug Kahn from their human rights foundation came back from his tour recognizing that there were some problems in some of the factories. But he frankly said, "I don’t know how far we can go on this and how fast we can go on it."
MM: Couldn’t Reebok simply say to its contractors: "Pay a higher wage"?
Harvey: They could do that.
MM: If Reebok doubled the wages of its workers in Indonesia, what effect would that have on its overall costs and profits?
Harvey: Well, if Reebok doubled their wages, it could raise the cost of a shoe from $79 to $80 and nobody would ever notice it. There is now about $1 worth of labor that goes into a shoe.
In 1991, Paul Fireman, the CEO of Reebok, was paid at least two times as much as the entire workforce of the Indonesian shoe industry. Reebok has 25,000 workers in Indonesia. If you allow $1.50 a day, for 300 days a year, you’ve got an annual wage of $500 a person. Add in a few benefits and bring it up to $600 maybe. 25,000 times $600 is $15 million, and that's at the most generous counting. Fireman made $31,000,000 in 1991.
MM: What do you think of companies like Reebok, which give human rights awards, and make a major point of claiming they’re a company that stands for human rights?
Harvey: I think it makes them vulnerable to some practices within their own industry. It puts a heavy burden on people like us and you to look at their records to see if they deserve the accolades they give themselves.
MM: So, you think it makes them vulnerable to pressure?
Harvey: Oh yes, absolutely. I also think there’s something genuine in the motivation of some of the people in the companies. It’s not all public relations - 80 percent maybe- but I think it is partly, in Reebok’s case, the product of old New England money that has a sort of noblesse oblige quality to it. Nike has taken a very different attitude; they’ve frowned on the whole area. But now they’re developing their own code of conduct. They’ve been forced to. I don’t know how powerful the code of conduct movement can become. It won’t be any more powerful than the amount of sunshine that we’re able to put on corporate practices. Otherwise, its just public relations. But Levi Strauss, which began the movement, has pulled out of China for the most part.
MM: Why did they do that?
Harvey: For reasons of objecting to military control of work forces in China.
MM: Were they receiving political pressure from within the United States?
Harvey: They received pressure that grew out of two incidents. One was the closing of their plant, I think it made Dockers jeans, in El Paso, and moving it across the river to Mexico, with very poor treatment of their workers, and it inflamed the whole city and Levi’s came in for a great deal of pressure and a long campaign to boycott Levi’s products locally and regionally.
Then, about a year later,Levi’s got burned by the exposure of labor conditions in Taipan. You have a bunch of hot shot entrepreneurs taking advantage of the fact that Taipan, which is about 200 miles from Guam and is a separate commonwealth related to the United States since 1986, is inside the U.S. tariff wall. So things that are made in Taipan can be labeled "Made in the USA," but wages are less than half the U.S. minimum wage. So, this group of entrepreneurs began importing large numbers of Chinese, Korean, Thai, Filipino workers, keeping them there as guest workers without any rights, without any residence rights, so that they couldn’t organize. They couldn’t bargain for any conditions. They were mostly non-English speaking, so they really had no outlet, and in many instances were virtual captives of the factory and its compound. The factory conditions both in work and living were really very poor. But Levi was contracting with one of those firms for the making of one of its products, and it got caught and decided after that it would develop a code of conduct for its contractors. It was the first company that ever established a code. All companies that we had ever dealt with prior to that had taken the position that they couldn’t regulate the conduct of their contractors.
Levi Strauss saw that its name was being sullied by these two incidents, so it established a code of conduct. At that time, they were contemplating moving into China, and a lot of criticism came to them for that. So, after reviewing it for a year or two they decided not to move to China, and then to make a moral point of not investing in China.
The point of all this is that companies who have an image to maintain as part of their product are vulnerable to consumer pressures for some quality in the work force, and we hope to levy some of that pressure.
MM: Could you run through quickly what has been accomplished under GSP over the years?
Harvey: Well, a number of countries have been excluded. Chile was excluded from the GSP program early on in the process, and that was an important element in putting pressure on Chile at the time of the ending of the Pinochet government. Paraguay was also excluded and that was an important part of the pressure for reform in Paraguay . Both Chile and Paraguay have come back into the program now after some reforms. But I’m not satisfied that the Paraguayan reforms really affected labor in any serious way; the problems in labor law there have not been resolved.
Burma, is currently excluded from the GSP program and the Central African Republic has been pulled out as well.
In Sri Lanka , a petition we filed in 1991 got a promise out of the Sri Lankan government to open their export processing zones to labor organizers. The zones there are like military compounds where you can only get in if you have a workers’ pass, and there is heavy surveillance in the area around the compound so that any labor organizer that goes into the neighborhood immediately gets spotted. The workers who have contact with the organizer come to work the next day, and suddenly their pass is no longer valid. The government made a promise that they would allow labor organizers in, and that they would change the labor law to exclude the export processing zones from the national security regulations. These regulations were being used to say that all products that were exported were national security sensitive, and that therefore any worker could be fired for absenteeism, including strikes, and that any kind of collective action would be considered a national security threat. But those promises have not been carried out. So we filed again this year.
The petition that we filed unsuccessfully on Guatemala for seven years was finally accepted by the U.S. government for review last year. A decision was just about to be announced when President Serrano decided to overthrow the Guatemalan constitution in May, and the GSP program and the leverage of that was the essential factor in forcing Serrano to resign.
MM: Could you briefly tell the story of the Indonesian petition?
Harvey: Well, it played out in a very complex way in the administration. We filed a petition, and Asia Watch filed also. The petition was accepted for review. On the face of it, it would have been hard to deny it because most of the information in the petition came out of the State Department’s country reports, which the government tends to take as absolute and verified fact, whereas everybody else is suspect.
MM: But didn’t the State Department lobby against your petition?
Harvey: Yeah, you see, they’ve adopted since the Reagan years a policy of being truthful in the country reports, but not letting that get in the way of policy. In the case of a country like Indonesia, it’s very difficult to claim that the freedom of association and the right of collective bargaining existed in any real sense. Those are the two most important elements in the GSP law. There was also the fact that Indonesia was accepted two years before, partly on the basis of a promise to produce a report on forced labor which was never produced, and on the basis of promised reform in freedom of association which never came about. I think they were inclined to up the ante a little bit and institute the review. It was a time also when there was growing concern about East Timor in higher levels of government, and that may have been a factor.
MM: Where does the cose now stand?
Harvey: That’s a good question. It’s not entirely clear what the U.S. government will insist on. The major problems are the fact that regardless what you call the SPSI, it is a government-dominated, military-controlled organization for labor control. They’ve got to demonstrate some real willingness to allow trade unions. That means that there are some laws that are going to have to be changed. You can’t have laws on the books that require 100,000 members or 10 unions in a federation totaling 100,000 members, before you can have any legal existence as a trade union. Some signs of seriousness in enforcing the minimum wages. Some signs of intent to really cope with the child labor problem will help.
MM: How much child labor is there in Indonesia?
Harvey: Quite a lot. The only study I’ve seen that’s close to number-conscious is one that was done by Kompass, and they indicated that at the time, in the export processing zone, for example, that the work force was about 60 percent under age. That’s under 14.
The Indonesian government inspected and claimed they didn’t find any children. Inspections are not surprise inspections in Indonesia. The child workers told investigators for a human rights organization that they were from time to time told to stay home that day, that the inspectors were coming.
by Ann Leonard
DHAKA, BANGLADESH - Following a wave of publicity in the early 1980s about the dumping of hazardous wastes from industrialized countries in Africa, targeted countries began taking action to protect themselves. The Organization of African Unity (OAU) called for a ban on international waste imports into the continent in 1988, then formalized the ban in the 1991 Bamako Convention. In the 1989 Lome Convention, 69 African, Caribbean and Pacific countries prohibited all waste imports into their countries.
Shut out from these regions, the international waste traders began searching for more welcoming dumping grounds. However, as they entered each new region, they met strong opposition from citizens, who railed against what they referred to as "toxic terrorism" and "toxic colonialism," and from governments which quickly passed legislation prohibiting waste imports. In April 1993, an agreement went into effect among Central American governments prohibiting waste imports into the region, which had been besieged by offers to import waste. And in October 1993, parties to the Barcelona Convention, which covers environmental issues throughout the Mediterranean, agreed to finalize a protocol banning waste shipments from industrialized to developing countries in the region.
Times are tough for the international waste brokers. In 1986, only three countries prohibited waste imports; today the number has risen to 101.
However, one region of the Third World remains largely open to waste imports: Asia. Locked out of most of the rest of the Third World, waste traffickers are making a last-ditch effort to preserve a welcome for the industrialized world’s waste in Asia.
Southeast Asia: waste traders unwelcome here
The waste traders’ first foray into Asia was in Southeast Asia. Only a few years after they dramatically increased their presence in the region, however, Southeast Asian governments and popular organizations are rising up in resistance. The regional opposition, explains Gani Serrano, vice-president of the Philippine Rural Reconstruction Movement, reflects an understanding of the global nature of the waste creation and disposal problem. "The global merchants of poison are in a deep bind, as our global ecological space has diminished in a big way. Saying that there is money in poison, they are now desperately searching for spaces to dump what they themselves reject in their own backyards," says Serrano. "Finding their elbow room nearing the edge of exhaustion in other parts of the planet, they now look to Asia for a willing and gullible host. By all means, we should deny them every bit of space. If local communities in Asia do just that, they will be doing their important share in arresting the further downgrading of environmental quality which has long been happening everywhere."
Last August, activist organizations from major waste-importing countries in Southeast Asia, along with activists from major waste-exporting countries, met for two regional training and strategy sessions, one in Jakarta and one in Manila, to develop campaigns to make Southeast Asia a waste trade free zone. On August 20, 1993, after the two meetings, the participants released a statement calling upon their governments to create a Southeast Asian version of Africa’s Bamako Convention.
Southeast Asian governments are beginning to respond to citizens’ concern about the increased dumping. The Philippine government has already adopted a complete ban on international waste imports, although enforcement remains a problem. The same day that the Southeast Asian activists released their demand for an end to waste trade in their region, Philippine senator Orlando Mercado filed a resolution calling for a senate inquiry into why wastes continued to be imported into the Philippines , in apparent violation of the nation’s waste import prohibition.
Responding to public opposition, the Indonesian government prohibited plastic waste imports in November 1992 and is considering expanding this prohibition to include other types of waste. And in August 1992, the Malaysian government announced a new prohibition on the import of certain hazardous waste categories.
South Asia: the waste trader’s newest target
Realizing the inevitable end to easy dumping in Southeast Asia, the waste dumpers are again shifting to areas less familiar with their practices, and thus, less likely to resist. While most of Asia has been receiving increasing amounts of waste during the past few years, it seems there is one region that the international waste traders have just discovered: South Asia.
Plastic waste exports to South Asia have skyrocketed in the last two years, according to U.S. customs data. Bangladesh , India and Pakistan received 53 percent of total U.S. plastic waste exports in January 1993 (excluding waste sent to China or its transit point, Hong Kong ). Only a year earlier, during the January to February 1992 period, the South Asian nations received only 15 percent of the U.S. plastic waste shipped abroad (again excluding China and Hong Kong). No plastic waste was shipped from the United States to Bangladesh during this period.
Plastic is by no means the only waste shipped to South Asia, as the following partial inventory of recent waste trade schemes demonstrates. The data that follows was compiled by the Greenpeace International Toxic Trade project from the Australian Foreign Trade Interrogation Facility (AFTIF), the U.S. Port Import Export Research Service (PIERS), United Kingdom Customs and Excise Trade Statistics, Statistics Canada and the Organization of Economic Cooperation and Development’s 1991 report "The Iron and Steel Industries in 1989." (This inventory is incomplete because of insufficient or non-existent waste export monitoring, and because of inadequate disclosure laws in both exporting and importing countries.)
o In 1992, Australia shipped 165 tons of metal waste, consisting of tin waste and scraps to Bangladesh.
o In an apparently new contract, a British waste trader sent 7 tons of tin waste metal from the United Kingdom to Bangladesh in April 1993.
o In January 1993 alone, the United States shipped 16.5 tons of plastic waste to Bangladesh.
o In September 1993, Bangladeshi newspapers reported that a New York City company, Solar International Trading Corporation, is proposing the development of an industrial zone, based on the use of imported waste. The plan envisages the importation of 12,000 tons of waste daily, or 4.38 million tons annually, from the United States. Solar International says that some of the waste would be "recycled" and some burned in a waste-to-energy incinerator.
o In late 1991, four U.S. corporations, Gaston Copper Recycling, Hy-Tex Marketing, Stoller Chemical and Southwire, all based in South Carolina, secretly mixed 1,000 tons of hazardous waste, containing high levels of lead and cadmium, into a shipment of fertilizer which the Bangladesh government purchased using funds from the Asian Development Bank. Before the contamination became widely know, one-third of the toxic fertilizer was applied on farms, largely by children with no protective gear [see Poison Fields," Multinational Monitor, April 1993 ].
o In 1992, India received 9,915 tons of non-ferrous metal waste, including ashes and residues, copper, aluminum, zinc and tin waste and scrap from the United Kingdom. Through the month of August, the United Kingdom sent 328 tons of ashes and residues, 637 tons of aluminum waste and scrap, 79 tons of copper waste and scrap, 119 tons of nickel waste, 234 tons of tin waste and scrap, 1,586 tons of zinc waste and scrap and 501 tons of lead waste and scrap to India.
o Although Germany is the world’s largest hazardous waste exporter, recent information regarding German waste exports to South Asia is not available. However, Greenpeace Germany has found that 4,847,000 tons of metal waste and scrap were shipped from Germany to India in 1989.
o In 1992, Australia shipped 1,325 tons of tin waste and 33,621 tons of brass waste to India.
o In 1992, Canadian waste traders shipped 106,005 tons of iron waste, 79 tons of zinc waste, 392 tons of ash and residue containing mainly zinc, 19 tons of polystyrene waste and 23 tons of other plastic waste to India.
o In addition, Canadian waste brokers shipped about one thousand tons of lead waste to India in 1992. The dangers of lead are well known and have caused it to become one of the most strictly regulated wastes in the industrialized countries. Lead interferes with children’s mental development, causes headaches, stomach problems, memory problems, anemia, miscarriages and brain and kidney damage.
In their 1992 report analyzing the impacts of scrap metal recycling processes, "When Green Is Not," Greenpeace reports that "the growing trend to transfer lead smelting operations to developing countries appears to be one of economics based largely on the difficulties of achieving increasingly strict pollution control standards. In order to achieve good environmental performances, one U.K. company recently redesigned its plant at a cost of some £10.5 million. Around 40 percent of the investment was expended on environmental controls, while 20 percent covered internal industrial hygiene measures."
o In January 1993 alone, the United States sent 1,198.5 tons of plastic waste to India.
o Greenpeace recently uncovered a mysterious series of waste shipments from the United States to India. According to U.S. Customs data, the Pepsi Cola Bottling Corporation has been exporting plastic waste from California to Madras and Bombay. In 1992, Pepsi shipped over 7,000 tons of plastic scrap to India. the most frequently used shipping lines for Pepsi’s waste trade are OOCL and Presidential.
The waste is described as scrap plastic PET bottles. PET stands for polyethylene terephthalate, a common type of plastic used in packaging, especially for 2 liter soda bottles. The customs data does not specify if the scrap PET plastic bottles which Pepsi exports are used bottles or scrap from bottle manufacturing. In numerous phone calls by Greenpeace investigators and helpful students to both Pepsi’s New York headquarters and its California office inquiring about the shipment, Pepsi denied that it exports any plastic scrap to India at all.
In many states in the United States, including California, used PET bottles are collected under a container-deposit system. Although consumers are told that the bottles are collected for "recycling," many are actually exported to less-industrialized countries where environmental and worker health and safety laws are either less stringent or not enforced [see Plastics: Trashing the Third World," Multinational Monitor, June 1992 ].
o In August 1993, in the first jury conviction in a U.S. federal court of an international waste trader, a Reno, Nevada man was sentenced to eight years in prison for illegally exporting hazardous waste from the United States to Pakistan. Tipped off about the arriving hazardous waste, which contained cyanide, mercury and arsenic, the Pakistan government refused to accept it and ordered it sent back to the United States.
o In 1992, the United States exported 1,865 tons of non-ferrous metal waste, including copper, aluminum, lead, zinc and molybdenum waste and scrap to Pakistan. Through August 1993, the United Kingdom sent a total of 1,949 tons of metal wastes to Pakistan -- already more than the previous year’s total shipments.
o Australian waste traders are also making inroads into Pakistan, exporting, for example, 21 tons of tin in 1992.
o Canadian waste brokers shipped 290 tons of iron waste to Pakistan in 1992.
o In January 1993 alone, the United States shipped 19.5 tons of plastic waste to Pakistan.
Making South Asia a waste trade free zone
Environmentalists throughout South Asia are calling for the region to follow the lead of so many others and declare itself off limits to international waste imports. The Bangladeshi organization, UBINIG (Policy Research for Development Alternatives), is launching a campaign to urge governments and regional organizations, such as the South Asia Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC), to adopt a convention similar to Africa’s Bamako Convention.
For activists in South Asia, resisting toxic trade is more than just an environmental issue. "South Asia is a region that has suffered from great disunity in the past," explains Farhad Mazhar, managing director of UBINIG. "A campaign to end the import of toxic wastes provides the opportunity for all countries, all political parties, all communities, in fact all South Asians, to come together for our mutual benefit. By declaring South Asia a toxics free zone, we will also be laying the groundwork for increased regional unity on many other issues. At the same time, we realize that shifting the toxics to another region is not the solution, so we will work with other regional campaigns to free not only South Asia, but the whole world, from toxic wastes."
When a region refuses to accept wastes from the industrialized world, the governments and industries in those countries have two choices: either encourage the development of clean production technologies to reduce hazardous waste production at home or find a new unsuspecting waste dumping ground. Although waste traffickers, supported by a number of industrialized country governments, have continually opted for the latter, they are facing increased resistance at every turn.
With potential dumping grounds running out, the governments of all countries are going to have to start taking pollution prevention more seriously. Approximately 98 percent of the world’s hazardous wastes are produced in the industrialized countries; as long as they are able to export this waste, the transformation to clean production processes will be delayed. Banning the international waste trade will not only protect recipient countries, but will also provide an impetus for all countries to develop environmentally sustainable production processes.
U.S. waste exports to South and Southeast
January-July, 1992 and 1993
South Asian countries most targeted for waste imports
Targeted Country Waste Type (metric tons) Jan-July: 1992 1993 Percent Change
Southeast Asian countries with most active peoples’ campaigns against waste imports
Targeted Country Waste Type (metric tons) Jan-July: 1992 1993 Percent Change
Return to Sender
FOLLOWING A NOVEMBER 1993 PLEA BARGAIN agreement by two of the companies charged with illegally exporting toxic-waste-contaminated fertilizer to Bangladesh, there is hope the unused portion of the fertilizer will be sent back to the United States. Two thousand tons of the contaminated fertilizer now sit in Bangladeshi warehouses.
In the plea bargain, reached in a South Carolina federal district court,Gaston Copper Recycling Co. and its parent company, Southwire Corp., admitted their involvement in the waste trade scheme, pleaded guilty to the charges, and agreed to pay a $1 million fine. Part of the $1 million fine will be used for the return of the waste to the United States.
"We are thrilled that the U.S. judge agreed that the companies’ fine will be used to remove the unused toxic waste fertilizer from our country." said Shima Das Shimu, a social scientist at the Dhaka- based UBINIG (Policy Research for Development Alternatives).
The shipment of hazardous waste disguised as fertilizer left South Carolina for Bangladesh in late 1991. The waste which was mixed into the fertilizer contains high levels of lead, which causes serious health impacts, including decreased intelligence in children, and cadmium, which causes lung and kidney damage and may cause cancer.
Last year the Bangladesh government formed a Special Enquiry Commission to investigate the waste import scandal and make recommendations about its resolution. The Commission warned that farming and fishing activities may have to be halted for up to several years where the toxic waste was applied and recommended that the unused portion of the waste be returned to the United States.
"Gaston Copper and Southwire Corporation must remove their toxic wastes from Bangladesh. This is an important step towards correcting the injustices of the U.S. waste export policy," says Marcelo Furtado of Greenpeace’s International Waste Trade Project, which has been collaborating with UBINIG to return the waste to the country and companies responsible for its manufacture and illegal export. "Now, the governments of the United States and other industrialized countries must act immediately to prevent such injustices from happening again by enacting laws to ban the export of their wastes."
Gaston Copper and its parent company, Southwire Corporation, are two of four U.S. companies involved in this toxic fertilizer scheme. Gaston Copper produced the waste. A third company, Hy-Tex Marketing , transported the waste to a fourth company, Stoller Chemicals , which mixed 1,000 tons of waste into the fertilizer. The shipment was financed under a loan from the Asian Development Bank.
During the last year, UBINIG representatives have met with officials of the U.S. government in Washington, D.C. and the Asian Development Bank (ADB ) in Manila to urge them to cooperate in returning the toxics wastes to the United States. UBINIG’s cll for "return to sender" has been echoed by other environmental groups in Bangladesh and the United States. Daisy Hollis, from CLEAN, an environmental group in South Carolina is also calling for the waste to be removed from Bangladesh. "Each state should be responsible for its own waste. Removing harmful toxins from the environment is the only way to do this," she said. Another U.S. organization, Global Response, organized a massive letter writing drive to the responsible U.S. corporations last year, urging them to repatriate the waste.
by Pradeep S. Mehta
CALCUTTA, INDIA - On paper, it promised to be India’s Tennessee Valley: the Sardar Sarovar Project (SSP) for the benefit of one of the most dry areas of the Indian subcontinent - the Kutch, Saurashtra and north Gujarat - bringing to mind images of water for drinking and parched lands irrigated through a network of dams and canals. But while talking of obliterating the images of pain in India’s dry regions, the planners of what they called the biggest ever "temple of modern India" took for granted the 800,000 indigenous people who have for centuries inhabited the lands to be submerged [see Cracks in the Dam: The World Bank in India," Multinational Monitor, December 1992 ].
India’s first prime minister, Jawaharlal Nehru, wanted the indigenous people, the inevitable refugees of development, to put national interest before their own. But after scores of dams over the past five decades, which have displaced an estimated 30 million people all over the country, the anti-dam movement, scattered in numerous peripheral groups from across India, has come together to resist.
The dam of contention over models and parameters of "development" burst when the Indian government and its partner in the project, the World Bank, parted ways. Under intense international pressure, sources within the Bank were increasingly calling for a reassessment of the project. A peeved Indian government decided in March 1993 to forego the undisbursed $170 million portion of the $450 million assistance committed by the Bank.
"It is actually a case of sour grapes," says Medha Patkar, the frail woman heading the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA, the Save Narmada Movement). "The World Bank-appointed independent review mission [headed by former UNDP administrator Bradford Morse] vindicated our position that [dam planners allowed] considerations of engineering [to] supersede the implications to life and livelihood of Adivasis."
Adivasis, or "ancient people," are the oldest inhabitants of India. They have long been marginalized by the "new people" and forced to live difficult lives in forests. Patkar, winner of the Right Livelihood Award (also known as the Alternative Nobel Prize) and the Goldman environmental award, points out that "the mission attacked the Bank and the Indian government for not coming up with detailed data on the population to be displaced."
"The Bank, who was eager to go ahead even at a high human cost, was cornered. The Indian government, which still basically considers environmental issues to be nonsense when weighed against prospects of running water and electricity, now prefers to bury its head in jargons like ‘self-reliance.’ ... Ironically, this was farthest from their minds when the decision was taken to implement this highly unscientific and unsuitable project."
The Narmada movement is bringing the development dilemma to every household across the length and breadth of the subcontinent, asking who are to be the beneficiaries of "progress." Unlike the immediate post-independence generation that was seduced by the Nehruvian model of big factories, bigger irrigation projects and state control of key industries, today’s intelligentsia are increasingly questioning the premise that the human and environmental costs of development can be ignored.
Significantly, Nehru’s grandson, Rajiv Gandhi, India’s prime minister from 1985 to 1989, first introduced the idea of evaluating development projects in ecological terms. But even he was bulldozed by the juggernaut of "progress." It was in his tenure, in April 1989, that the green light was given to the Narmada Valley Project (NVP), the consolidated project integrating three distinct ventures - the Narmada Valley Development Project, the Narmada Sagar Project (NSP) and the SSP.
Since 1947, the year of India’s independence, this largest river project in the world had been caught in various deadlocks, mostly for reasons of financial paucity. Until 1979, it was also bogged down in inter-state disputes between Gujarat, Maharashtra and Madhya Pradesh, all three big and populous central and western states of India, through which the Narmada flows.
The project finally began to move forward after the World Bank assured credit assistance representing 15 percent of the project cost. The entire project was to be spread over 30 large, 135 medium- sized and 3,000 small dams. Gujarat’s (or SSP’s) share of the cake was to be the greatest - apart from dams and reservoirs, two giant hydroelectric power plants and a 75,000-kilometer canal network.
But the World Bank came under enormous international pressure to withdraw its support for the massive dam project. According to Lori Udall, a staff attorney with the Environmental Defense Fund, the Narmada project had become known worldwide as the ‘test case’ of the Bank’s willingness and capability to adhere to its own environmental and social guidelines. "Narmada was only one example of the World Bank’s negligence on environment and forcible resettlement of people."
Ultimately, the Bank came to rethink its support for Narmada, for reasons of political expedience or otherwise. After India decided to forego Bank assistance, World Bank president Lewis Preston said, "I think it was, alas, in everybody’s interest. I think we would have had an awkward time if it had come to forcing a date because of the civil strain and stress that goes with the implementation of the time table. It was a sensible thing to do."
However, Bimal Jalan, India’s executive director on the World Bank board, is confident the project will go forward without Bank support. "The Indian government will be able to go it alone." Patkar retorts that the federal and Gujarat governments are now fighting a "prestige battle." The government had always claimed that it was committed to full implementation of the action plan on resettlement and rehabilitation of the population to be displaced by the project. The government contends that it still hopes to complete the SSP by the end of the decade at a cost of about $3 billion. Some financial assistance may be coming from expatriates. Rich Gujaratis settled in Europe, Africa and the United States have come together to establish funding consortiums for Narmada in the absence of World Bank aid," says Muchkund Desai, an executive with the Sardar Sarovar Narmada Nigam Limited, the state corporation executing the project.
Perhaps to indicate that it is serious, in August 1993, the government decided to go ahead with the flooding of the little cluster of villages called Manibeli, bordering Maharashtra. Patkar and her activists vowed to perform Jal Samadhi (sacrificial drowning in the water) as their ultimate protest.
The government’s first response was to arrest opposition activists. But faced with mounting public outcry at the instances of police atrocities, the government was forced to announce a review of the project. Basically, it saw the impossibility of policing a 30-kilometer-wide front. Patkar herself proved elusive and the government realized that if she was successful in making her suicide statement, the SSP was as good as lost.
The Indian federal government’s pacific overture in offering to review the project gave rise to another dimension of the debate, however. The chief minister of Gujarat state, Chimanbhai Patel, notorious for his sympathies with the contractor interests behind the project, spoke out bitterly against the central government’s mollification of the activists. "There can be no compromise, the SSP will be the life line of Gujarat," he asserted. The federal government views Patel as an important ally, and so, to soothe his nerves, it amended its statement.
The federal Water Resources Minister, V.C. Shukla, assured parliamentarians from the state in early August that any change in the basic design of the SSP can only be implemented with the consent of the state government. He also said that the so-called review will not significantly change the character of the SSP.
While wide cracks are appearing in the government’s front, the opposition is experiencing major problems of its own. Together for years, the Narmada Bachao Andolan (NBA) has been a loose assortment of groups unified by a variety of concerns over the SSP. Some decried the project in ecological terms, while others concentrated on the combined seismic impact of all the reservoirs. The uncertainty shrouding the fate of the indigenous people offered an emotive chord to tie them together into a somewhat cohesive movement.
But now the government, which has gone through similar, albeit smaller-scale motions over the past five decades, is exploiting the vulnerability of the impoverished people to be affected by the project. The lure of "jobs" in the new project, cash compensation and dreams of proper homes right out of movies, have proven too much for many of them to resist. These promises often result in a sudden, though short- lived upward mobility in their lifestyles. Bandi Umrao, an adivasi villager to be eventually affected, is looking forward to an urban lifestyle complete with a motor scooter. "The government has also assured me a job in the project. A fixed salary is sometimes preferable to an uncertain life as a shepherd," he says.
Within their community, the displaced often become subjects of envy. With goodies like transistor radios, jewelry and simple household consumables becoming a reality, many look at leaders like Patkars as characters intent upon keeping these objects out of their reach through alien concerns. The juxtaposition of this simple reasoning with allegations of "unholy pacts between giant global financial magnates and so-called environmentalists to keep India ever dependent," as raised by the leading pro- Narmada campaigner, Krishnaprasad Patel, give the government’s strand a certain legitimacy.
Submergence at Sardar Sarovar
Gujarat Maharashtra Madhyq Pradesh Total
source: vidyu joshi in the economic times, 9/26/89
Displays of despair
Twenty-three river valley, thermal and hydroelectric power projects in India still have World Bank support. In August 1993, perhaps impressed by events in the Narmada, the Bank started a three-year review process of rehabilitation schemes in its funded projects. Tod Ragsdale, the Bank’s representative in charge of review, received first hand experience of the despair of the people these projects purport to help. Newspapers reported that people displaced by the upcoming Vinhyachal Super Thermal Power Corporation, which the Bank is helping through the state-owned National Thermal Power Corporation (NTPC), often stopped Ragsdale’s car as it drove through their villages, only to hold on to the steering wheel and weep.
Confronting Environmental Racism: Voices from the Grassroots
Edited by Robert D. Bullard
Boston: South End Press, 1993
259 pp.; $16.00
MINORITY COMMUNITIES IN THE UNITED STATES disproportionately house toxic dumps, incinerators and polluting factories; people of color hold a disproportionately high number of the country’s most hazardous jobs, as farmworkers and in factories; and children of color exhibit much higher levels of lead contamination than white children.
Much of this disparity, Confronting Environmental Racism convincingly shows, is due to conscious efforts by polluters to target poor and people of color communities for their operations. Exhibit number one in support of this claim is a 1984 consultants’ report to the California Waste Management Board, Political Difficulties Facing Waste-to-Energy Conversion Plant Siting, which stated, "All socioeconomic groupings tend to resent the nearby siting of major facilities, but middle and upper socioeconomic strata possess better resources to effectuate their opposition. Middle and higher socioeconomic strata neighborhoods should not fall within the one-mile and five-mile radius of the proposed site."
Housing segregation also exacerbates the disparity, editor Robert Bullard argues. Discriminatory government and private real estate policies may confine minorities to areas near industrial facilities, limiting the ability of even higher-income people of color to move away from environmental hazards.
And poverty takes it toll by limiting options. Most whites will not work as farmworkers, but Mexican immigrants may have few alternatives.
As the segment of the U.S. population most severely affected by pollution and environmental degradation, people of color have taken a leading role within the grassroots movement for environmental justice. Confronting Environmental Racism documents "the environmental revolution taking shape in the United States," in the words of editor Robert Bullard, a revolution which "has touched communities of color from New York to California and from Florida to Alaska.
The book complements its overview of the problem of environmental racism and the growing resistance movement with a series of case studies of minority communities’ struggles against environmentally destructive projects. The case studies emphasize the inextricable link between environmental and social justice concerns in the grassroots environmental justice movement.
In Southern Colorado, Devon Pena and Joseph Gallegos detail, rural Chicanos have fought a protracted fight against the mining multinational Battle Mountain Gold (BMG). BMG has opened a strip-mine and cyanide-leach milling operation which has polluted local waters and threatens to drain the regional aquifer and encroach onto land to which the Chicanos have asserted a communal claim. Local residents, organized into the Costilla County Committee for Environmental Soundness (CES), have drawn on their tradition of struggling to maintain communal control over local lands in their battle against BMG. Local residents have resisted company efforts to silence opposition to the mine by offering jobs; CES has even forged an alliance with the local miners. CES has had notable success, raising BMG’s costs by forcing the company to agree to adopt cleaner mining technologies, so that, with the current low world gold price, BMG operations are not profitable. The company may be forced to permanently shut the mine down earlier than anticipated if world gold prices remain depressed.
Not all of the case studies tell positive stories, however. In Alabama’s Blackbelt, Conner Baily, Charles E. Faupel and James H. Gundlach write, the efforts to oppose a Chemical Waste Management hazardous waste incinerator have been hindered by a failure to forge a genuine alliance between the African-American civil rights movement and the white, local environmental movement. They attribute the failure to a multitude of factors, but conclude that "white activists have made conscious efforts to reach out to progressive forces in the African- American community, but they need to play a more active part in helping improve the social, economic and political conditions of the black majority."
Toxic Struggles: The Theory and Practice of Environmental Justice
Edited by Richard Hofrichter
Philadelphia: New Society Publishers, 1993
260 pp.; $16.95
THE COMMON ELEMENT of the diverse and provocative essays inToxic Struggles, a compilation of short pieces offering theoretical and analytic perspectives on environmental justice, is that real progress in resolving the environmental crisis cannot be achieved by environmentalism alone.
"Ecological faultlines follow structures of economic power: from white to people of color, men to women, rich to poor, North to South," writes Mary Mellor. Because the environmental crisis is rooted in struggles over the right to use and control natural resources and over the right to shape production processes, the authors in Toxic Struggles argue, ecological problems must be addressed from a social justice perspective.
The theoretical contributions to the book focus on concentrated corporate and government power as the primary perpetrator of environmental harms, and grassroots movements as the best hope for containing corporate abuses. The contributors agree that corporate freedoms must be restricted and governments made more accountable to the citizenry.
"Proprietors of poisonous capital do not have the sole right to decide how their property is enjoyed once their actions endanger the public," writes John O’Conner. At the same time, the exercise of existing people’s rights, O’Conner argues, can form the basis for meaningful challenges to polluters. "Publicly invoking our most basic rights often disrupts the peace. But the effort is essential, and the results can be significant. Collective action by well-organized communities can not only force changes in the behavior of antisocial industries but can also result in the acceptance of new rights."
The theoretical pieces also claim that social values must undergo a transformation if the ecological crisis is to be solved, with the dominant individualistic and materialistic ethic replaced with an emphasis on shared responsibilities and mutual obligations. Feminist contributors to the volume argue that these are values already predominant among women, and that the political expression of these values by a feminist-oriented environmental justice movement might begin the transformation of dominant social mores.
The analytic contributions to Toxic Struggles focus on the environmental justice issue through the prisms of people of color and women’s environmental campaigns, workplace health hazards and global ecological problems, especially in the Third World.
The multiple interconnections between environmental issues and social and economic justice concerns are highlighted by these varied essays. Celene Krauss describes how "fighting toxic wastes in defense of the family becomes the lever for the transformation of consciousness and the political action of blue-collar women." Eric Mann contends that "any efforts to limit or shape production in sound ways will involve direct confrontations between mangement’s right to decide what a corporation will produce and the rights of workers and communities to live and work in safety." Martin Khor rejects the path of Third World "modernization," which he labels "a code word for [people] losing their control over their resources and their rights of determining their own future." Genuine Third World development, he writes, "means recognizing land rights, putting a stop to depleting resources such as forests; and introducing clean water, health facilities, and better schools."
The New Protectionism: Protecting the Future Against Free Trade
By Tim Lang and Colin Hines
New York: The New Press, 1993
186 pp., $11.95
FAIR TRADE, NOT FREE TRADE." That’s been the slogan of most of the activists trying to slow the corporate free trade juggernaut in battles against the North American Free Trade Agreement (NAFTA ), the General Agreement on Tariffs and Trade (GATT ) and other free trade deals.
Tim Lang and Colin Hines warn in The New Protectionism that this might be a mistake. Whatever the tactical merits of the call for fair trade, they argue, it is a mistake for progressives to build a strategic vision around notions of fair trade. What is needed, they contend, is not fair trade but less trade.
The New Protectionism succinctly documents the limits of free trade theory and the harms of free trade practice, showing the effects of free trade on the environment, workers, public health regulations and standards and democracy. In fact, The New Protectionism argues, free trade is a misnomer for a multinational corporate deregulatory agenda that seeks to override any contrary citizen interests.
Free trade ideology, so pervasive in the media and in academe, has not ascended because of its sound principles or because it represents the best hope for material improvements in the lives of most people. Rather, The New Protectionism shows, it has become the dominant economic ideology because its most important advocates - multinationals - are so powerful and have worked so hard to extend its influence.
While some of the ravages of free trade can be alleviated by environmental and social safeguards, and while there may be some small short-term benefits to alternative trading schemes, trade itself is the ultimate problem, The New Protectionism claims. For example, no trade safeguard or sensitivity to social concerns can address the problem of the huge amounts of energy wasted (and contribution to global warming and other problems made) in shipping goods from one side of the world to the other, when the same goods could be produced locally.
"Piecemeal efforts or bolt-on additions to existing economic policies are not enough to foster more appropriate use of the earth’s resources," Lang and Hines argue. "Nor can it be left to consumers on their own to turn whole economies round to a more appropriate form. Laws need to change; aspirations need to be redirected; and policies coordinated."
Lang and Hines call for a complete reorientation of global trading and economic policies. "The New Protectionism, as we have called this orientation, aims to protect the environment by reducing international trade and by reorienting and diversifying entire economies towards producing the most that they can locally or nationally, then looking to the region that surrounds them, and only as a last option to global international trade."
The authors sketch a 10-point agenda in furtherance of the New Protectionism. The 10 key elements are: reorienting economic policy away from the global and towards the regional and local; building and supporting communities; promoting aid and trade for self-reliance, fostered by an exchange of appropriate technology and skills; spreading existing work to include the unemployed by shortening the work week; raising environmental and public protection standards; controlling multinationals; writing off the Third World debt; dismantling or reforming the world finance and trade bodies (including the International Monetary Fund, the World Bank and GATT); curtailing the power of existing super trading blocs (NAFTA, the European Community); and changing consumption patterns.
The tobacco industry contributed nearly $2.5 million between 1991 and 1992 to members of Congress, the study found. The largest single contributor was R.J. Reynolds , which donated $852,363 during that period.
"The fact that tobacco money buys pro-tobacco results is clear, consistent and undeniable," says Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen’s Health Research Group. Public Citizen estimates that tobacco kills 500,000 people a year in the United States, making it the leading cause of preventable death.
The report, Contributing to Death: The Influence of Tobacco Money on the U.S. Congress, found that the more money members of the House and Senate received from tobacco interests, the less likely they were to support a federal tax increase on cigarettes during the 1992-93 legislative session. Fewer than 9 percent of House members who received the most tobacco money co- sponsored tobacco control measures during the 1992-93 legislative session. However, 40 percent of those who received the smallest amount of tobacco money supported tobacco control legislation. In the Senate, 8 percent of members who received the most tobacco money supported tobacco control measures during the 1992-93 legislative session. Of those receiving the smallest amount of tobacco money, 36 percent supported tobacco control legislation.
Testifying Against Rockwell
THE 23 COLORADO GRAND JURORS who created an uproar last year when they defied their prosecutor and
went public with allegations of corporate crime and prosecutorial misconduct related to the Rocky Flats
nuclear weapons facility near Denver, Colorado will most likely testify before John Dingell’s, D-
Michigan, House Committee on Energy and Commerce in January 1994.
Dingell’s Oversight Subcommittee is currently wrestling with the question of whether to grant the grand jurors immunity for discussing confidential deliberations. A grand jury has never testified before Congress about grand jury proceedings.
In March 1992, Rockwell International pleaded guilty to environmental crimes in connection with the company’s operation of the Rocky Flats. The company was fined $18.5 million - the largest amount ever imposed in a hazardous waste case.
Federal officials charged that Rockwell illegally stored and treated hazardous wastes generated during the production of plutonium "triggers" and other components of nuclear weapons at Rocky Flats. Federal officials also charged that the company improperly and illegally discharged wastes through its sewage treatment plant, creating the potential for contamination by runoff to a reservoir used for drinking water.
Following the plea agreement, newspaper articles quoted unnamed members of the special grand jury who, apparently in violation of their oath of secrecy, discussed the investigation and their deliberations. A person who knowingly violates the grand jury secrecy law can be prosecuted for contempt of court.
Grand jurors told a Denver newspaper that they wanted to indict employees of the Department of Energy and Rockwell International, but the U.S. Attorney refused to approve the indictments the jury drafted.
In October 1993, the Justice Department announced that it would take no action in connection with the grand jury leaks.
THE STATE OF KENTUCKY has turned down a landfill application submitted by Attwoods Environmental , an international waste disposal company, on
the basis of the company’s environmental record. Now the company is fighting with the state over a
background report which details the company’s alleged improper business practices in other states.
In November, the Kentucky Natural Resources and Environmental Protection Cabinet (NREPC) announced that it planned to deny the landfill application submitted by Attwoods and its partner Bituminous Resources Inc. According to a NREPC background report, Bituminous had "misrepresented, omitted and concealed facts in its application and for certain of its key personnel."
"The number of employees of Attwoods’ subsidiaries indicted in different jurisdictions for involvement in illegal acts and over-billing schemes are too numerous to be random acts by rogue or disgruntled employees," the NREPC report said. "One also notes that many of the employees indicted in the past year are high-level, white-collar, management personnel."
This is the first time since Kentucky passed a 1991 law requiring background checks on landfill owners and operators that regulators have denied a permit.
Attwoods Environmental is a British company with international operations in waste disposal and sand and gravel. Bituminous is owned jointly by prominent Western Kentucky coal operator Don Bowles and Attwoods.
The NREPC report said "it is not probable Bituminous has the willingness or ability to operate a waste facility in a lawful manner."
Bruce Cryder, counsel for Attwoods, blasted the report in a letter to NREPC officials stating that it is "replete with inaccuracies, misrepresentations, half-truths and innuendo."
Attwoods has filed a lawsuit in a Kentucky court against the NREPC, asking that the report be removed from the public record until the company can respond.
The NREPC report lists indictments and ongoing grand jury investigations into Attwoods’ business activities in New Jersey, Maryland, Illinois, and Florida. In October 1993, the state of New Jersey ordered Attwoods to cease doing business in the state as of November 30, 1993 because of a recurrent pattern of violations by the company. Attwoods has appealed the state’s order.
- Ben Lilliston
5/3 Barabo Mahanpur
Ring Road, Shaymoli, Dhaka-1207
55 Murray Street, 5th Floor
K1N 5M3 CANADA
600 Maryland Ave., SW, Suite 202W
Washington, DC 20024
1436 U Street, NW
Washington, DC 20009
25 Louisiana Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20001
2882 North Dinneen
Decatur, IL 62526
1325 G Street, NW
Washington, DC 20005
256 South Linden Drive
Beverly Hills, CA 90212
2000 P Street, NW
1130 17th Street, NW, Suite 300
Washington, DC 20036
450 Sansome, Suite 700
San Francisco, CA 94111
for Responsible Medicine
5100 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 404
Washington, DC 20016
Education and Research Fund
100 Maryland Avenue, NW, Box 74
Washington, DC 20002
1730 Rhode Island Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
Stop Teenage Addiction to Tobacco (STAT)
121 Lyman Street, Suite 210
Springfield, MA 01103
Sun-Diamond Growers of
5568 Gibraltar Drive
Pleasanton, CA 94566
PO Box 994
Midland MI 48611-0994
1007 Market Street
Wilmington, DE 19898
9330 Balboa Ave.
San Diego, CA 92123-1516
Newark, NJ 07101
P.O. Box 2959
Winston-Salem, NC 27102
P.O. Box 5630
Denver, CO 80217-5630
2200 East El Dorado
Decatur, IL 62525
2000 Westchester Av.
White Plains, NY 10650
PO Box 1026
East Liverpool, OH 43920-6026
Pocket Books, 1993
Washington, DC: Greenpeace
Washington, DC: Public Citizen and Citizens Trade Campaign, 1993
(Vol. 2 to be released Dec. 1993)
the Independent Review
Ottawa: Resources Futures International, Inc., 1992
P.O. Box 18384
Washington, DC 20036
By Russell Mokhiber
San Francisco: Sierra Club Books, 1988
By Philip Mattera
Henry Holt and Company, 1992
By Brian Burrough & John Helyar
New York: HarperCollins, 1991
of Corporate Environmentalism
as practiced at DuPont
By Jack Doyle
Washington, DC: Friends of the Earth, 1991
of the Forests
Edited by Marcus Colchester &
Atlantic Highlands, NJ: Zed Books, 1993
[an error occurred while processing this directive]