Category Archives: Corporate Personhood

‘Payoff for 40 Years of Dark Money’: Supreme Court Delivers for Corporate America

“It was the conservative court’s larger agenda to gut the regulatory state and decimate executive powers to protect Americans’ health and safety,” warned one expert.

By Jake Johnson  Published 7-1-2022 by Common Dreams

The interior of the United States Supreme Court. Photo: Phil Roeder/CC

Over the past several decades, corporate lawyers, right-wing activists, Republican officials, and dark money groups with deep pockets have been laying the groundwork for a far-reaching legal assault on the federal government’s ability to regulate U.S. industry—including the oil and gas sector threatening the planet.

On Thursday, their investments bore major fruit.

In a 6-3 decision along ideological lines, a Supreme Court packed with right-wing judges handpicked and boosted by some of the same forces leading the yearslong crusade against the power of regulatory agencies—which conservatives often dub the “administrative state”—dramatically restricted the Environmental Protection Agency’s authority to rein in greenhouse gas pollution from power plants. Continue reading

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House Panel Exposes How ‘Shameful’ Meatpackers Put Profits Over Worker Health During Pandemic

“The report shows that corporate giants like Tyson and Smithfield worked closely with the Trump administration to keep their operations running despite the risks to workers.”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 5-12-2022 by Common Dreams

Workers at the Sam Kane beef slaughterhouse in Corpus Christi, Texas. Photo: USDA/flickr

A congressional report published Thursday revealed that meat processing companies worked with and lobbied the Trump administration to continue operating during the Covid-19 pandemic, despite the danger to workers in the high-risk industry.

The House Select Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis report—entitled Now to Get Rid of Those Pesky Health Departments!—shows how major meatpackers including Tyson Foods, JBS USA, and Smithfield Foods engaged political appointees in the Trump administration in “an aggressive campaign to ensure their facilities remained at maximum capacity.” Continue reading

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Green Groups Blame Bolsonaro Policies as Amazon Deforestation Sets New Monthly Record

“The Bolsonaro administration is abetting deforestation and environmental crime,” said one campaigner, “and what we harvest are these terrible, scary, revolting numbers.”

By Brett Wilkins  Published 5-6-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Amazon Watch/Twitter

Brazil’s space research agency revealed Friday that deforestation in the country’s Amazon rainforest last month shattered the previous record for April, a development one conservation campaigner called “very scary” and an indication of the criminal level of environmental destruction occurring under the administration of far-right President Jair Bolsonaro.

The National Institute for Space Research said nearly 400 square miles of the world’s largest rainforest was destroyed in Brazil last month, an area the size of 1,400 soccer fields and by far the biggest loss for April since record-keeping began in 2015, Agence France-Presse reports. Continue reading

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EU Enacts Landmark Social Media Law to End Self-Regulation by Big Tech

“As the U.S. agonizes over misinformation and hate speech on social media and the harm it does to democracy,” said one journalist, the European Union passed the Digital Services Act “to tackle the problem.”

By Kenny Stancil  Published 4-23-2022 by Common Dreams

Photo: Jason Howie/flickr/CC

The European Union on Saturday passed a landmark law that seeks to reduce social media’s harmful effects by requiring Big Tech corporations to quash disinformation and illicit content on their platforms or else face multibillion-dollar fines.

The Digital Services Act (DSA) would compel Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Twitter, and other platforms “to set up new policies and procedures to remove flagged hate speech, terrorist propaganda, and other material defined as illegal by countries within the European Union,” the New York Times reported. Continue reading

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‘A Win in Our Fight for Net Neutrality’: Industry Loses Another Attempt to Block California Law

“This is big,” said FCC Chairwoman Jessica Rosenworcel, “because when the FCC rolled back its open internet policies, states stepped in.”

By Andrea Germanos  Published 4-22-2022 by Common Dreams

Net Neutrality protest at Google HQ in 2010. Photo: Steve Rhodes/flickr/CC

Open internet defenders cheered this week after a federal appeals court rejected an industry-backed petition to block enforcement of California’s net neutrality law.

Internet service providers (ISPs) wanted a hearing before all the judges on the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit after a three-judge panel of that court in January upheld that the law could go into effect. Continue reading

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‘Unscientific and Unlawful’: Biden EPA Will Not Regulate Rocket Fuel Chemical in Water

“The Trump EPA gave perchlorate a pass; it was a bad decision then, and it’s a bad decision now,” said one environmental advocate.

By Julia Conley.  Published 4-1-2022 by Common Dreams

Public health advocates said Thursday that they plan to resume litigation against the Environmental Protection Agency after the Biden administration announced it would uphold former President Donald Trump’s decision to not regulate drinking water levels of a chemical used to make rocket fuel and explosives.

Former President Barack Obama’s administration proposed limits for perchlorate after finding in 2011 that drinking water for 16 million people may have unsafe levels of the contaminant, which poses a risk to the development of children and fetuses. Continue reading

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Study Confirms How Citizens United Made ‘Mockery’ of Campaign Finance Rules

“We need to pass the Freedom to Vote Act to stop consultants from acting as coordinators between candidates and super PACs.”

By Brett Wilkins.  Published 12=15-2021 by Common Dreams

Image: Donkey Holey/flickr/CC

As a report published Wednesday revealed that political consulting firms raked in $1.4 billion while simultaneously working for campaign committees and purportedly independent groups during the 2018 and 2020 election cycles, progressives renewed calls for Congress to pass the Freedom to Vote Act to protect and strengthen democracy.

The report—entitled Dual Agents—was published by Public Citizen and further discredits Citizens United v. Federal Elections Commissionthe highly controversial 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling which affirmed that corporations are legal persons and that they, labor unions, and other outside groups could spend unlimited amounts of money to influence the outcome of American elections—as long as they don’t coordinate with candidates or campaigns. Continue reading

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‘Alarming’: ALEC’s New Model Bill Would Penalize Banks for Divesting From Fossil Fuels

One critic called the proposal, which describes green investment policies as a form of “energy discrimination,” a “desperate attempt by fossil fuel companies and their lobbyists to maintain their profits.”

By Kenny Stancil. Published 12-8-2021 by Common Dreams

Marathon Petroleum’s Los Angeles Refinery in Carson, California, Photo: Marathon Petroleum

Progressives are sounding the alarm about a recently launched right-wing campaign that seeks to preempt green investment policies throughout the United States by portraying the financial sector’s potential turn toward clean energy as discriminatory—and introducing legislation that would punish banks and asset managers for divesting from fossil fuels.

The Koch-funded American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), which consistently pumps out reactionary bills mostly for state-level Republicans, held its States and Nation Policy Summit last week in San Diego. Continue reading

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‘We Are Fighting Back’: Global Black Friday Strikes and Protests Seek to #MakeAmazonPay

“We are workers and activists divided by geography and our role in the global economy but united in our commitment to Make Amazon Pay fair wages, its taxes, and for its impact on the planet.”

By Kenny Stancil.  Published 11-25-2021 by Common Dreams

Workers at the FRA3 Amazon datacenter in Frankfurt, Germany. Photo: Amazon Workers International/Twitter

On Black Friday, more than 70 labor unions and progressive advocacy groups shut down workplaces and hit the streets in cities around the globe to demand—on Amazon’s most profitable day of the year—that the sprawling tech and logistics corporation pay a living wage to its employees and a fair share of taxes to compensate the societies in which it operates.

“From oil refineries, to factories, to warehouses, to data centers, to corporate offices in countries across the world, workers and activists are rising up in strikes, protests, and actions to Make Amazon Pay,” reads the campaign’s website. While the international coalition held its first Black Friday day of action 12 months ago, opposition to Amazon’s abuses has only grown since then, and work stoppages and rallies targeting the e-commerce giant were expected in at least 20 countries on every inhabited continent this year.

According to the Make Amazon Pay coalition, planned actions include:

  • In Kathmandu, Nepal, organizers from the UNICOME Nepal and UNI Nepal Liaison Council will protest in defense of Amazon suppliers and their rights to decent conditions;
  • In Berlin, Germany, warehouse workers will march on the site of Amazon’s HQ to launch the Amazon Workers Against Surveillance;
  • In Toronto, Canada, postal workers and the Warehouse Worker Resource Center will march on the Brampton Amazon facility to demand better wages;
  • In Buenos Aires, Argentina, activists will take action at the Axion oil refinery against Amazon’s services to fossil fuel corporations like BP; and
  • In Warsaw, Poland, a broad coalition of unions and environmentalists will take to the streets to protest Amazon’s worker repression and arbitrary firings at its warehouses.

Sharan Burrow, general secretary of the International Trade Union Confederation, said Friday that people worldwide are demonstrating “to end corporate impunity, to end the scandal of [Amazon’s] monopoly power.”

“They pay little or no tax, yet their obscene wealth is actually untrammeled,” Burrow continued. She emphasized the need to “stan[d] with Amazon workers every day” and thanked unions for their solidarity.

Amazon is headquartered in the United States, but its reach is global—with a massive workforce of roughly 1.3 million people, excluding countless others employed by the company’s subcontractors, and a carbon footprint larger than two-thirds of the world’s countries. Resistance to one of the most powerful corporate empires in history—founded by Jeff Bezos, currently the second-richest person on the planet—is also transnational.

“Amazon is everywhere, involved in almost every step of the global economy, but we are too,” explains the coalition, which includes Progressive International, UNI Global Union, Amazon Workers International, and dozens of other trade unions and civil society organizations working to stamp out inequality, tax evasion, and climate injustice.

“At every link in this chain of abuse, we are fighting back,” the coalition says. “We are workers and activists divided by geography and our role in the global economy but united in our commitment to Make Amazon Pay fair wages, its taxes, and for its impact on the planet.”

Campaigners from the United Kingdom, Spain, Italy, Argentina, Bangladesh, Germany, Cambodia, and Poland described how “Amazon just doesn’t give a shit”—exploiting workers and consumers, despoiling the environment, dodging taxes, and using its ill-gotten gains to wield enormous, anti-democratic influence over lawmakers.

The Covid-19 pandemic, in particular, “has exposed how Amazon places profits ahead of workers, society, and our planet,” the Make Amazon Pay coalition notes on its website.

Last year, for instance, Amazon became a trillion-dollar corporation. According to a video on the coalition’s website, “Amazon’s wealth has increased so much during the pandemic that its owners could pay all 1.3 million of its employees a $690,000 Covid bonus and still be as rich as they were in 2020.”

Bezos—who paid a 1.1% true tax rate between 2006 and 2018, according to a June report from ProPublica—also became the first individual to amass a personal fortune of more than $200 billion. He surpassed that figure in August 2020, just a few months after he eliminated the short-lived hazard pay of Amazon employees, who have continued toiling at great risk to their own health.

In addition, Amazon’s union-busting tactics were on full display earlier this year in Bessemer, Alabama during a drive organized by the Retail Wholesale and Department Store Union (RWDSU).

Union organizers at the Bessemer warehouse came up short in the April election, but an official at the National Labor Relations Board has recommended invalidating those results and mandating a new vote after RWDSU filed nearly two dozen complaints alleging that Amazon illegally threatened employees with loss of pay and benefits, installed and surveilled an unlawful ballot collection box, and expelled pro-union workers from so-called “captive audience” meetings during which management argued against unionization.

In addition to ruthlessly squashing unionization efforts, Amazon denies governments revenue “through its world-beating efforts at tax dodging,” says the Make Amazon Pay Coalition.

“Like all major corporations, Amazon’s success would be impossible without the public institutions that citizens built together over generations,” the coalition stresses. “But instead of giving back to the societies that helped it grow,” the e-commerce giant “paid just 1.2% tax in the U.S.” in 2019, “up from 0% the two previous years.”

As far as pollution goes, the coalition points out, “Amazon’s growing delivery and cloud computer businesses are accelerating global climate breakdown.”

Bezos, meanwhile, said in July—immediately following his first suborbital flight, which he admitted was paid for by Amazon workers—that he thinks it would be a good idea to relocate industrial production to outer space, threatening, however unrealistically, to push capitalism’s detrimental impacts beyond Earth’s atmosphere.

A study published earlier this month found that “the emissions from a single billionaire spaceflight would exceed the lifetime emissions of someone in the poorest billion people” in the world.

Highlighting Amazon’s environmental destruction here on planet Earth, Extinction Rebellion blocked a total of 15 fulfillment centers throughout Europe on Black Friday, in solidarity with striking workers.

In its list of demands, the Make Amazon Pay coalition says that it is fighting for better pay for Amazon’s workers—”in line with the increasing wealth of the corporation, including hazard pay and premium pay for peak times”—as well as improved working conditions and benefits, such as paid sick leave “so that no worker has to choose between their health or their job.”

The coalition also seeks to protect Amazon workers’ rights to organize as well as unions’ rights to promote the interests of employees—without fear of surveillance and retaliation, throughout the company’s global supply chains.

In addition, the campaign is pushing for Amazon to commit to zero emissions by 2030 and to eliminate “tax abuse through profit shifting, loopholes, and the use of tax havens,” among other demands to safeguard consumers’ data.

“Amazon is not alone in these bad practices,” the coalition acknowledges, “but it sits at the heart of a failed system that drives the inequality, climate breakdown, and democratic decay that scar our age.”

This work is licensed under Creative Commons (CC BY-NC-ND 3.0)
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KXL Pipeline Company Exploits NAFTA Provision to File $15 Billion Claim Against US

“NAFTA’s legacy of granting multinational corporations special rights to sue governments taking action to protect the environment lives on.”

By Andrea Germanos.  Published 11-24-2021 by Common Dreams.

Climate activists hold signs against the Keystone XL project at a September 20, 2013 protest. (Photo: Joe Brusky/CC BY-NC 2.0)

The Canadian company behind the canceled Keystone XL pipeline filed a formal request for arbitration this week under the North American Free Trade Agreement to seek over $15 billion in economic damages over the Biden administration’s revocation of the cross-border oil project’s permit.

In its Monday filing, TC Energy criticizes the permit’s cancellation as “unfair and inequitable” and argues the U.S. government should pay damages for the “regulatory roller coaster” the company endured while seeking to build the pipeline. Continue reading

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