Multinational Monitor


Not Kosher: The Ralph Reed-Jack Abramoff Connection.
by Andrew Wheat

The United States, Bolivia, and the Political Economy of Coca
by Gretchen Gordon

The CAFTA Chronicles: Strong-Arming Central America, Mocking Democracy
by Tom Ricker and Burke Stansbury

Thais Take to the Streets to Stop U.S. Trade Agenda
by Martin Khor

Drilling East Timor: Australia's Oil Grab inthe Timor Sea
by Charles Scheiner


Saving $60 Billion: Lawrence Korb's Common Sense Budget Defense Plan
An Interview with Lawrence Korb

The Market for Virtue: The Impact of Corporate Social Responsibility
An Interview with David Vogel


Behind the Lines

The Lobby Reform Fiasco

The Front
Philippines Gets Stomped - EPA Program Off Track

The Lawrence Summers Memorial Award

Names In the News

Book Notes


Names in the News

Strikebreaking Scheme

Ralphs Grocery Company, a unit of Kroger, stands accused of conducting an innovative union-busting scheme involving falsification of hiring records.

In December, a federal grand jury returned a 53-count indictment against the company, charging that it secretly rehired hundreds of locked-out employees under false names and false social security numbers during the 2003-2004 grocery workers labor dispute.

Federal officials alleged that Ralphs required rehired locked-out employees to work under false identities to hide its illegal activities from the government.

In secretly rehiring hundreds of locked-out employees under false identities, Ralphs allegedly falsified thousands of employment records, including forms filed with government agencies such as employment eligibility forms, employee withholding allowance certificates and income tax statements.

Ralphs allegedly issued thousands of weekly payroll checks under the false names used by rehired workers, and then allowed these workers to cash their paychecks at Ralphs stores as a means of concealing and promoting the ongoing use of false identities.

The indictment alleges that Ralphs' resulting ability to withstand a lengthier lockout provided it with increased leverage over the locked out United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) union, whose financial resources were exhausted by the end of the lockout.

The labor dispute that prompted the lockout began after a collective bargaining agreement covering grocery workers employed by Ralphs, Albertson's and Vons, a Safeway Company, expired in October 2003.

UFCW members then struck Vons.

In response Ralphs and Albertsons announced that they were locking out all their grocery workers who were UFCW members.

The lockout and strike lasted approximately four-and-a-half months and affected approximately 65,000 to 70,000 grocery workers, making it the longest and largest labor dispute involving the grocery industry in U.S. history.

Coddling Nuke Miscreants

Now nuclear corporations get deferred prosecution agreements - for lying to the government about critical safety problems at a nuclear power facility.

In a deferred prosecution agreement made public in January, FirstEnergy Nuclear Operating Company admitted that its employees, acting on its behalf, knowingly made false representations to the Nuclear Regulatory Commission (NRC) in the course of attempting to persuade the NRC that its northern Ohio Davis-Besse Nuclear Power Station was safe to operate beyond December 31, 2001.

Under the agreement, the company will pay $28 million in penalties, restitution and community service projects.

In the agreement, First Energy admitted that if the company had been indicted, federal prosecutors would have been able to prove that the company made false statements to the NRC so that the Davis Besse plant could continue operating until its next scheduled outage, rather than shutting down earlier for a critical safety inspection.

David Uhlmann, chief of the Justice Department's environmental crimes section, says that the company that entered into the deferred prosecution agreement has reformed and "is not the same company that lied and misled regulators in 2001."

But Representative Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, is critical of the agreement. "I commend the work of United States Attorney Greg White, but the buck does not stop with a couple of mid-level managers and a consultant," Kucinich says. "Those at the top levels of First Energy must also be held accountable. From day one, FirstEnergy executives have been more interested in protecting their bottom line then protecting public safety."

"These indictments serve only to reinforce my call to revoke First Energy's license to run a nuclear power plant," Kucinich says.

Not Very Sporting

Catch this fact pattern: Over a period of three years, Vulcan Sports - also known as The Sporting News - sells ads to illegal gambling operations, amounting to what the feds contend is aiding and promoting illegal gambling. But instead of securing an indictment, the U.S. Attorney in St. Louis crafts a non-prosecution agreement.

Under the terms of the deal announced in January, The Sporting News agreed to forfeit $4.2 million in ad revenue proceeds and spend $3 million over the next three years on a public service campaign "designed to inform the public of the illegality in the United States of commercial internet and telephonic gambling."

The illegal proceeds were $7.2 million. The company writes a check for $4.2 million. And then takes out ads in its own publication worth $3 million.

The U.S. Attorney's office said that it wouldn't consider the deal a non-prosecution agreement,

"A crime was committed, which makes the money forfeitable," a spokesperson for the U.S. Attorney's office says. "But we normally don't prosecute corporations. It's not that we are agreeing not to prosecute because we are getting the money forfeited. We are agreeing not to prosecute because it is rare that corporations get prosecuted. But the company wanted it in writing."

- Russell Mokhiber


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