Multinational Monitor

NOV/DEC 2005
VOL 26 No. 11


The Ten Worst Corporations of 2005
by Russell Mokhiber and Robert Weissman

Taking On Corporate Power - and Winning by Robert Weissman


Corporate Crime and Prosecution
An interview with Win Swenson


Behind the Lines

Corporate Crime and Punishment

The Front
Treading on the Taxpayer - A Bitter Deal for Mauritius

The Lawrence Summers Memorial Award

Names In the News


Names In the News

Union-Busting Frenzy

A majority of employers aggressively use both legal and illegal anti-union tactics during union representation elections overseen by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), according to a December report, conducted by the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Center for Urban Economic Development and commissioned by American Rights at Work.

The report finds that:

  • 30 percent of employers fire pro-union workers.
  • 49 percent of employers threaten to close a worksite when workers try to form a union.
  • 51 percent of employers coerce workers into opposing unions with bribery or favoritism.
  • 82 percent of employers hire unionbusting consultants to fight organizing drives.
  • 91 percent of employers force employees to attend one-on-one anti-union meetings with supervisors.

“Employer interference continues to be off the charts with devastating consequences for workers,” said former Member of Congress and American Rights at Work Chair David Bonior.

In 91 percent of the cases surveyed for the report, a majority of workers indicated that they wanted a union before the representation election process began. In several instances, workers demonstrated more than 80 percent support for a union. However, after workers were exposed to employer unionbusting activity, only 31 percent of these campaigns resulted in union-represented workers.

“Our research clearly shows that firings, bribes and threats are pervasive and that these actions greatly impede workers’ ability to form unions,” says report co-author Nik Theodore.

Black Day for Lord Black

Media mogul Conrad Black and two others were indicted in November for looting Hollinger International, the owner of the Sun-Times and other media properties around the world.

The 11-count indictment alleges two new fraud schemes. It also re-alleges a scheme described in an August indictment that the defendants fraudulently diverted more than $32 million from the U.S.-based Hollinger newspaper holding company through a complex series of self-dealing transactions.

The first new scheme alleges that the defendants fraudulently diverted an additional $51.8 million in 2000 from Hollinger International’s multibillion-dollar sale of assets to CanWest Global Communications Corp.

The indictment was brought by U.S. Attorney Patrick Fitzgerald, who filed the indictment against U.S. Vice President Dick Cheney’s top aide, Scooter Libby.

Black and one of his co-defendants allegedly fraudulently misused corporate perks, including a company jet for a vacation by Black and his wife in the South Pacific, two Park Avenue Apartments in New York City, and corporate funds to throw a lavish birthday party for Black’s wife.

The news was warmly received in the Chicago Sun-Times newsroom. “We’re ready to hang him and string him up right now,” Sun-Times business editor Dan Miller told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation radio news program As It Happens, for the “raping and pillaging” of the company.

Lilly's 2d Disappointment

Disappointed with sales of its osteoporosis drug Evista, Eli Lilly allegedly decided to promote it illegally for unapproved uses.

Now the company will have to pay. It agreed in December to plead guilty to one misdemeanor count and to pay $36 million in connection with its illegal promotion of Evista.

Under the plea agreement, the Indianapolis-based company agreed will pay a $6 million criminal fine and forfeit to the United States an additional sum of $6 million. In a separate settlement with the Food and Drug Administration, it will fork over $24 million.

Evista is approved by the FDA for the prevention and treatment of osteoporosis in post-menopausal women.

But sales were disappointing. In October 1998, Lilly reduced its forecast of Evista’s first year’s U.S. sales from $401 million to $120 million. An internal Lilly business plan noted, “Disappointing year versus original forecast.”

In order to expand sales of the drug, Lilly sought to broaden the market for Evista by promoting it for unapproved uses. Lilly’s Evista brand team and sales representatives allegedly promoted Evista for the prevention and reduction in risk of breast cancer, and the reduction in the risk of cardiovascular disease. Among their alleged tactics:

  • One-on-one sales pitches by sales representatives promoting Evista to physicians about off-label uses of Evista. Sales representatives were trained to prompt or bait questions by doctors in order to promote Evista for unapproved uses;
  • Organizing a “market research summit” during which Evista was discussed with physicians for unapproved uses, including reducing the risk of breast cancer; and
  • Creating and distributing to sales representatives an “Evista Best Practices” videotape, in which a sales representative states that “Evista truly is the best drug for the prevention of all these diseases” referring to osteoporosis, breast cancer, and cardiovascular disease.

— Russell Mokhiber


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