Multinational Monitor

JAN/FEB 2002
VOL 23 No. 1


Derailed: The UK’s Disastrous Experience with Railway Privatization
by Brendan Martin

Business Goes to School: The For-Profit Corporate Drive to Run Public Schools
by Barbara Miner

Off the Grid: Mexico’s Free Market Extremism and Labor’s Challenge to Privatization
by David Bacon

Power to the People In South Africa: Operation Khanyisa! and the Fight Against Electricity Privatization
by Patrick Bond

System Failure: Deregulation, Political Corruption, Corporate Fraud and the Enron Debacle
by Andrew Wheat


Theft of the Century: Privatization and the Looting of Russia
an interview with
Paul Klebnikov

Undermining Security: A Warning Against Social Security Privatization
an interview with
Dean Baker

Accounting for Bad Accounting
an interview with
John Coffee



Behind the Lines

Preparing for the Next Enron

The Front
The Big Ugly at Ok Tedi - The Boeing Boondoggle

The Lawrence Summers Memorial Award

Names In the News


Letters to the Editor

Following efforts by the Coalition Against Bayer Dangers to publicize in Germany the selection of Bayer as one of Multinational Monitor’s 10 worst corporations of the year, Bayer released the following statement, translated from the German by the Coalition Against Bayer Dangers:

Bayer rejects the accusations and defamations by the U.S.-based Multinational Monitor in its so-called “negative list” of the “10 Worst Corporations of the Year 2001” published in December in the US. According to Multinational Monitor, the list includes companies that defraud the public, spoil the environment and neglect workers rights. Multinational Monitor is the organ of an alliance of activist groups that have the common aim of criticizing companies. It is no coincidence that this news was publicized by the so-called “Coalition against Bayer Dangers” shortly before Bayer’s planned listing in the United States. The reasons Multinational Monitor provides for including Bayer on the list are one-sided and are exaggerated to describe alleged “scandals.” This presentation fits into the agitation that the Coalition Against Bayer Dangers has pushed forward against Bayer and its subsidiaries for years.

In 2001, Bayer was picked by U.S.-based magazine Fortune as one of the “most admired companies” in the United States. Bayer is one of the founding members of the UN Global Compact of UN Secretary Kofi Annan, that was started in July 2001. Therein the company obliges itself to agree with and spread nine principles the UN picked in the fields of human rights, social standards and environmental protection.

Last year, Bayer was also chosen for the FTSE4 Good Global 100 Index. In this list, the English company FTSE [co-owned by the Financial Times and the London Stock Exchange] picks companies judged to have good record in the fields human rights, social standards and environmental protection.

Bayer conducts periodical representative inquiries of consumers in the United States. These show that Bayer has a very good image in the United States. This was also true for studies conducted in the second half of 2001.

To the Editor:

While Coca-Cola’s marketing program is nothing to be proud of, and arguably is deserving of condemnation, half the corporations in America easily reach that standard of misbehavior. I can only conclude that Coca Cola earned its spot in the top ten due to the allegations of complicity with Colombian death squads.

It is important to publicize such allegations in the absence of a truly free press active in major media outlets, but compiling lists based on allegations is tantamount to conviction without a trial. I think it diminishes the effectiveness of your list. Surely you can find another company that has been PROVEN to be more reprehensible.

Aside from that, I have nothing but praise for your efforts. Keep up the good work!

- Lawrence Grasso
Hartford, Connecticut

To the Editor:

You might want to add mention of the following to your already damning indictment of Exxon (Ten Worst Corporations article). The information pasted below is from the Humane Society Web page:

Fewer than one hundred individuals remain of the western gray whale population, which lives in the waters off Russia and Japan. In the summer months, western gray whales (not to be confused with their more numerous kin, eastern gray whales) feed off the East Coast of Russia, including areas around northeastern Sakhalin Island in the Sea of Okhotsk. However, a new oil exploration project, spearheaded by Exxon Corporation, is being undertaken off Sakhalin Island, only 10 to 20 km from the whales’ primary feeding grounds. Seismic exploration is scheduled to begin sometime in early August, despite the International Whaling Commission’s Scientific Committee’s strong recommendations at its 2001 meeting in London that no seismic surveys be conducted while whales are on their feeding grounds. Unless we can convince Exxon to delay the project, the seismic surveys may spell the doom of the entire western gray whale population, displacing them from their vital feeding grounds and affecting their breeding success.

I wrote to Exxon at the time (last August) and learned they were intent on continuing this program in spite of the danger to the whales. I haven’t heard what has happened since.

- John Hauf
Mill Valley, California

To The Editor:

In 2001, Wisconsin’s Fox Valley, had no shortage of corporations behaving badly. As with your recent list of the10 worst, the corporations listed below (most of which were not founded in the Fox Valley nor headquartered here) are aided and abetted by an uncritical corporate media, lapdog and toadying politicians trained to look the other way, and a public school system that produces vastly more passive consumers than active citizens.

  • Wisconsin Central Transportation Corporation: This railroad outfit has had one of the worst safety records in the world since 1987. Wisconsin’s poet laureate Ellen Kort wrote a poem entitled “Derailment” about Wisconsin Central’s 1996 Weyauwega travesty that forced 2,300 people from their homes. Additionally, along with two other corporations (Clariant and Hydrite Chemical), Wisconsin Central has dragged its feet in reimbursing homeowners and small businesses evacuated during a December 2000 chemical spill in the city of Oshkosh.

  • Sodexho: In spring and summer of 2001, this food service provider tried to bust the University of Washington, Oshkosh union, backing off only due to grassroots union activity and the intervention of UW Oshkosh Chancellor Rick Wells.

  • Lapham-Hickey Steel: Despite facing an aggressive and hostile anti-union response from management, workers at the Lapham-Hickey plant voted to unionize in March of 2001. Management has since refused to bargain in good faith, seeking a salary freeze.

  • Wal-Mart: Is there a city in the United States where this monster has not wreaked havoc? In Oshkosh in 2001, Wal-Mart engaged in secret negotiations to purchase land from New Life Community Church that will be used to build a superstore.

  • The Entire Paper Industry: Seven corporations (Appleton Papers, NCR, Georgia-Pacific, P.H. Glatfelter Company, SCA, Sonoco, and Riverside Paper Company) are responsible for cleaning up from the Fox River the PCBs that were dumped by the industry from 1954-1990. These corporations have spent many years and much money trying to obfuscate the extent of the problem, demonizing the Environmental Protection Agency and Department of Natural Resources, and threatening to leave the state if they are forced to pay for a cleanup. Finally in 2001 the EPA and DNR came up with a cleanup proposal that makes the polluters primarily responsible for the cleanup, but the plan has been called inadequate by environmental groups and the cleanup won’t even start until 2003.

  • Plexus and SMTC: According to the Appleton Post-Crescent of July 15, 2001, the electronics firm Plexus in April laid off more than 100 workers with no advance notice. Two women interviewed in the article were hired almost immediately by another electronics firm, SMTC in Appleton, but then laid off there after barely two months of work.

  • The Gannett Corporation: All 10 of the major Wisconsin newspapers with a Fox Valley reach are now owned by Gannett. All of these papers at one time had local ownership or at least connected with their local communities in a meaningful way. They are now corporate clones of each other.

  • Time Warner Cable: After four years of mostly secret negotiations between the city of Oshkosh and Time Warner, the two parties inked a new 15-year deal in 2001. The public was completely shut out of the negotiations, and the agreement reached provides no guarantee that Time-Warner will be more consumer friendly than has been the case in the past. In addition, Time-Warner has denied the ability to provide high-speed Internet access to a local Internet Service Provider (Northnet) that led a movement to urge the FTC to place conditions on AOL/Time-Warner in approving the merger of the two companies in 2000.

  • Touchpoint-Aurora: 15,000 people were caught in the middle of an ugly legal battle between two health care giants about who the health plans would cover, and on what terms.

  • K-Mart: Wisconsin’s Consumer Protection Administrator Bill Oemichen issued a consumer alert against K-Mart in 2001 after the company continued to overcharge customers throughout the state via inaccurate scanners.

  • Van Zeeland Oil Company: Van Zeeland is a “small potatoes” company that owns 11 gas stations in the region. On September 11 at about 5 p.m., with Americans gripped in fear after the terrorist attacks, Van Zeeland raised gas prices from $1.69 to $2.95 a gallon. Todd Van Zeeland told the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel that he rolled the prices back three hours later after cashiers were threatened at the stations. Van Zeeland later apologized and announced that any extra profits would go to the American Red Cross.

I’m sure that all of your readers can easily come up with a similar list of corporations exploiting the region in which they live. Perhaps Multinational Monitor could devote a special issue to such lists.

- Tony Palmeri
Oshkosh, Wisconsin


Mailing List


Editor's Blog

Archived Issues

Subscribe Online

Donate Online


Send Letter to the Editor

Writers' Guidelines