Multinational Monitor

JUN 1998
VOL 19 No. 6


Dirty Old Grandfathered Plants: The Clean Air Act's Lung-Charring Loopholes
by Fred Richardson and Andrew Wheat

Wasting Away: Big Agribusiness Factory Farms Make a Big Mess
by Tanya Tolchin

Ravaging the Poor: IMF Indicted By Its Own Data
by Gabriel Kolko

An Enemy of Indigenous People: The Case of Loren Miller, COICA, the Inter-American Foundation and the Ayahuasca Plant
by Danielle Knight


Taking Aim at the Gun Makers
an interview with
David Kairys


Behind the Lines

U.S. Drug Imperialism

The Front
Emissions Omissions - Out of the Mouths of Babes

The Lawrence Summers Memorial Award

Money & Politics
Trade Association Directory

Their Masters' Voice
The Burma Lobby

Names In the News


Behind the Lines

Lubicon Victory

Boycotts can work. And a few people can make a difference. Those are two lessons that emerge from the seven-year Friends of the Lubicon boycott targeting Japanese paper manufacturer Daishowa.

In June, Tokiro Kawamura, president of Daishowa-Marubeni International, wrote to Lubicon Chief Bernard Ominayak, indicating that Daishowa would commit not to log in a 4000-square-mile area which the Lubicon claim as indigenous land, at least until the Lubicon claim is resolved with the Canadian government.

Chief Ominayak responded, "Although it's been a long time coming, the Lubicons acknowledge and accept DMI's public commitment that Daishowa, its related companies and their contractors, will not harvest or purchase timber" from the 4000-square-mile area until after all Lubicon land claims are settled. "I have forwarded a copy of your letter to Lubicon supporters advising them of our acknowledgement and acceptance and requesting that they bring the boycott of Daishowa paper products to an end."

The Daishowa boycott, organized by the small Friends of the Lubicon, had garnered tremendous support. With support growing for the boycott, Daishowa sued Friends of the Lubicon in 1995, charging the group unlawfully interfered with the company's business. In April, a Canadian court ruled against the paper company [see "Canadians Ungagged," Multinational Monitor, May 1998].

"This has to be one of the most successful boycotts in Canadian history," says Friends of the Lubicon spokesperson Kevin Thomas.

"There's no doubt that the boycott is responsible for this turn of events," Thomas says. "It was the combined efforts of thousands of Lubicon supporters that forced Daishowa to turn around at last."

The Unionist Toll

Nearly 300 trade unionists were killed in 1997 for standing up for their rights, according to a report released in June by the Brussels-based International Confederation of Trade Unions (ICFTU).

The report found that 1,681 trade unionists were tortured or ill-treated, 2,329 were detained, there were 3,369 cases of intimidation and there was blatant interference in union affairs in 79 countries.

"Fifty years after the adoption of the ILO Convention 87 on Freedom of Association -- the most basic of labor rights -- trade unionists are still having to fight for the right to organize," said ICFTU General Secretary Bill Jordan.

According to the report, Colombia holds the record with 156 trade unionists, including 61 teachers, murdered, mainly at the hands of paramilitary death squads which roam the country.

In Algeria, Abdelhak Ben Hamouda, head of the General Workers' Union of Algeria, was assassinated outside the union headquarters. In India, two textile workers were shot dead during demonstrations. 

ICFTU reported that in the United States, "at least one in 10 union supporters campaigning to form a union is illegally fired."  

Jordan said that "what is staggering about the report is that even where repression of trade unionists is at its worst -- as in Colombia or China -- the human spirit survives and in the face of terrible repression, workers still dare to organize for their rights."

The Not-So-Liberal Media

Liberal Media? Not in the United States, at least when it comes to economic and corporate issues.

A survey by the media watchdog group Fairness and Accuracy in Media, released in June, debunks the myth that the Washington, D.C. media is more liberal than the public.

The survey of 141 journalists found that only 5 percent of the surveyed journalists described current U.S. economic conditions as "fair" or "poor," far below the 34 percent of the population who so characterize the U.S. economy.

Asked whether "a few large corporations" have "too much power," 57 percent of the journalists said yes, well below the 77 percent of the public who answered affirmatively in a 1995 poll.

Only 18 percent of the journalists said they believed President Clinton's 1993 economic plan went "not far enough" in raising taxes on the rich. An overwhelming 72 percent of the public shares this view.

While the public opposes NAFTA and trade treaties in public opinion surveys, journalists said by a 65-to-8 percent margin that they believe NAFTA has had a positive impact on the U.S. economy. Seventy-one percent of journalists support giving the president fast-track authority to negotiate new trade agreements; 67 percent of the public opposes fast track.

The only survey question in which journalists appeared to the left of the public asked respondents to choose whether stricter environmental laws "cost too many jobs and hurt the economy" or "are worth the cost."

Journalists said they are "worth the cost" by a 79-to-21 percent margin. The public shared this view, but by a somewhat smaller margin, 63-to-30 percent in a 1996 poll.

"There appear to be very few national journalists," says David Croteau, a professor at Virginia Commonwealth University who conducted the survey, "with left views on economic questions like corporate power and trade -- issues that may well matter more to media owners and advertisers than social issues like gay rights and affirmative action."

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