Skip to content

Campaign Against Caterpillar having an impact

June 16, 2012

This campaign update is re-posted from End the Occupation.

Early this morning, US Campaign member groups demonstrated outside and raised their voices inside the Caterpillar Corporation shareholders meeting for the 9th year in a row. This was just the most recent of a series of events that occurred this Spring, showing the corporation that its support for the Israeli occupation — notably supplying D9 bulldozers which Israel uses to demolish Palestinian homes, uproot olive trees, construct Jewish-only settlements and the Apartheid Wall, and kill and maim unarmed civilians — comes at a cost.

The action came just eight days after a unanimous vote by the Arizona State University (ASU) undergraduate student government passing a bill submitted by US Campaign member group ASU Students for Justice in Palestine, demanding that ASU divest from and blacklist companies that provide the Israeli army with weapons and militarized equipment or are complicit with the genocidal regime in Darfur. The bill named ten such companies, including Caterpillar and Motorola Solutions.

The vote came on the heels of a decision by the Friends Fiduciary Corporation, which serves over 250 Quaker Friends meetings, schools, organizations, trusts and endowments and has over $200 million in assets, decided to divest from Caterpillar.

Last year, after seven years of Caterpillar’s most important corporate gathering being dominated by member groups and others protesting the company’s complicity in the occupation, Caterpillar moved its shareholder meeting from Chicago to Little Rock, Arkansas. This year, Caterpillar moved even further away to San Antonio, Texas. We said it last year and we’ll say it again now: Caterpillar, you can run but you can’t hide!

Gabriel Schivone spoke passionately inside the meeting as a shareholder on behalf of JVP and a “robust coalition of religious organizations” in favor of a proposal behind which many US Campaign member groups have rallied through the years. Entitled “Review of Global Corporate Standards,” the proposal urges Caterpillar to adopt a review and public reporting of the company’s worldwide business practices, and to extend wide-reaching policies to “conform more fully with international human rights and humanitarian standards.” An advance poll of showed that at least 21% of all shareholders voting in favor.

Organizers from member groups Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP) and Palestine Online Store joined activists from No Más Muertes, the Esperanza Peace & Justice Center in San Antonio, and elsewhere outside the meeting. They made “concrete connections” between Israel’s Apartheid Wall and the wall on the U.S.-Mexico border — both of which Caterpillar is helping to build — drawing attention to the racist policies suffered as a result by Latina and Latino migrant communities and indigenous peoples in Arizona and Palestine. El Movímíento Estudíantíl Chícan@ de Aztlán (M.E.Ch.A.), the largest association of Latina and Latino youth in the U.S., drew similar connections earlier this year and endorsed Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) in another victory at ASU.

Sadly, retirement giant TIAA-CREF, which invests more than $1 billion in Caterpillar, was missing in action. TIAA-CREF has answered calls for divestment with claims that it prefers to engage with companies rather than divest from them. Yet TIAA-CREF was nowhere to be found during this chance to voice concerns. 

TIAA-CREF cannot simultaneously claim to “finance for the greater good” and invest — including through its Social Choice Fund! — in the destruction of Palestinian homes and lives. TIAA-CREF’s Senior Vice President and Corporate Secretary William Mostyn III needs to hear from you!

Click here to write a letter to TIAA-CREF to remind them that we are watching!

Next month, shortly before the TIAA-CREF annual shareholders meeting, the Presbyterian Church (USA) will vote on divestment from Caterpillar, Motorola Solutions, and Hewlett Packard. The church’s Mission Responsibility Through Investment and the General Assembly Mission Council have already put their full support behind divestment. Successful regional overtures on boycotting settlement products and naming and condemning Israeli apartheid are also on the agenda.

The claim that BDS efforts are failing is a favorite of BDS opponents, but it’s betrayed by the stream of recent victories. With summer around the corner, thanks to the hard work of member groups around the country, Caterpillar and countless US institutions like it are feeling the heat!


No comments yet

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: