Multinational Monitor

JUL/AUG 2003
VOL 24 No. 7


Grotesque Inequality: Corporate Globalization and the Global Gap Between Rich and Poor
by Robert Weissman

Left Behind: Domestic Inequalities and the Fate of the Poor
by United Nations Development Program

The Hogs of Rosebud
by Winona LaDuke


Inequality in the World Economy, By the Numbers
an interview with Branko Milanovic

Losing the Farm: How Corporate Globalization Pushes Millions Off the Land and Into Desperation
an interview with Anuradha Mittal


Behind the Lines

Patents, Profits, Power and Poverty

The Front
For Wealth, Not Health - A Light Homicide Charge

The Lawrence Summers Memorial Award

Book Notes

Names In the News


Behind the Lines

Judge to Wal-Mart: Bargain

Wal-Mart is so viciously anti-union that even the smallest breakthroughs at the company are noteworthy.

In June, a National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) administrative law judge ordered Wal-Mart, the largest U.S. employer, to recognize the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) as bargaining representative for meat cutters at a company store in Jacksonville, Texas.

Three years ago, meat cutters at the Jacksonville Wal-Mart voted 7 to 3 to be represented by UFCW Local 540.

Wal-Mart responded a month later by closing the department. It announced it was eliminating fresh-cut meat and reassigned all the Local 540 meat cutters to different jobs that did not employ their skills. The NLRB judge has ordered Wal-Mart to recognize UFCW Local 540, to restore the reassigned workers' meat-cutting duties and to engage in collective bargaining with Local 540, including bargaining over the impact of the company's elimination of meat-cutting and its change to case-ready meat.

"This is a historic decision -- the first bargaining order issued against Wal-Mart in the United States," says UFCW Executive Vice President Mike Leonard. "It is a victory for all Wal-Mart workers who are fighting for a voice at work."

A Step to Bhopal Justice

The Indian Government in July formally called on the United States to extradite former Union Carbide Chair Warren Anderson.

Anderson is wanted in court for his role in the 1984 gas disaster in Bhopal that has claimed more than 20,000 lives.

Senior officials of the Indian embassy in Washington, D.C. and the Central Bureau of Investigation have confirmed the delivery of the extradition request.

"This long-awaited move is a major step forward in our struggle for justice," says Rashida Bee, president of the Bhopal Gas-Affected Women Stationery Workers Association. "We will ensure that this is not just a token gesture."

Others said that the Indian action put the ball is squarely in the U.S. government's court.

"It is now time for the U.S. government to walk the walk and get Anderson to face criminal trial in Bhopal," said Krishnaveni Gundu, International Campaign for Justice in Bhopal's (ICJB's) U.S. coordinator.

The request for Anderson's extradition has come after three years of protests and intense pressure on the Indian Government by survivors organizations in Bhopal, their supporters worldwide and the court of the Chief Judicial Magistrate in Bhopal. Anderson and Union Carbide stand accused of manslaughter and grievous assault.

In 1992, the Bhopal court declared Warren Anderson a fugitive from justice after he ignored summons to appear in the criminal case.

The Bhopal disaster of December 3, 1984 poisoned nearly 500,000 people and killed thousands of people in its immediate aftermath.

Union Carbide fled the country after paying a pittance in damages -- between $500 and $2,000 per victim -- for lifelong injury or death and leaving behind thousands of tons of toxic wastes and an unresolved legal inquiry into the company's criminal liabilities.

In February 2001, Dow Chemical acquired Union Carbide as a 100 percent subsidiary. Dow has refused to accept Carbide's Bhopal liabilities.

In a letter to the Indian Prime Minister, ICJB and Bhopal survivor organizations have urged that "the Indian government should take immediate steps to bring Accused No. 10, Union Carbide Corporation, to face trial and include Dow Chemical, its new owner, as an accused in the criminal case."

Republican Shakedown

Republican state attorneys general in at least six states telephoned corporations or trade groups subject to lawsuits or regulations by their state governments to solicit hundreds of thousands of dollars in political contributions, according to internal fundraising documents obtained by the Washington Post.

One of the documents mentions potential state actions against health maintenance organizations and suggests the attorneys general should "start targeting the HMOs" for fundraising, the Post reported in July. It also cites a news article about consolidation and regulation of insurance firms and states that "this would be a natural area for us to focus on raising money."

The attorneys general were all members of the Republican Attorneys General Association (RAGA). The companies they solicited included some of the nation's largest tobacco, pharmaceutical, computer, energy, banking, liquor, insurance and media concerns, many of which have been targeted in product liability lawsuits or regulations by state governments.

The documents describe direct calls the attorneys general made to representatives of Pfizer, MasterCard, Eli Lilly, Anheuser-Busch, Citigroup, Amway, U.S. Steel, Nextel Communications, General Motors, Microsoft and Shell Oil, among other companies.

The documents also make clear that RAGA assigned attorneys general to make calls to companies with business and legal interests in their own states.

One of those soliciting funds between 1999 and 2001, according to the documents, was Alabama Attorney General William Pryor Jr. Pryor is a pending nominee by President Bush to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.


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