Ms. magazine  -- more than a magazine a movement



feminist wire | daily newsbriefs


Environmental, Human Rights, Women's and Pro-Democracy Groups Petition Attorney General of California to Revoke Unocal's Charter (part1)

Aiming to guard the public from a global oil company which they say is "a dangerous scofflaw corporation," 30 citizens' organizations and individuals today filed a 127-page petition seeking action by the California Attorney General to revoke the charter of the Union Oil Company of California (Unocal). Petitions were delivered to California Attorney General Dan Lungren's Sacramento office and, in simultaneous 11 a.m. press conferences, to his representatives at his Los Angeles and San Francisco offices.

Outraged over Unocal's business ties with the anti-woman Taliban militia in Afghanistan and the military dictators of Burma, as well as over the corporation's record as a "repeat offender" of environmental, labor and deceptive practices laws and its "usurpation of political power," petitioners ask that the attorney general call on a court to revoke the company's charter, appoint a receiver, and wind up the corporation's affairs "in order to fully protect jobs, workers, stockholders, unions, communities, the environment, suppliers, customers, government entities, and the public interest."

"We're letting the people of California in on a well-kept legal secret," said Robert Benson, professor of law at Loyola Law School, Los Angeles, and lead attorney for the National Lawyers Guild's International Law Project for Human, Economic and Environmental Defense (HEED) which prepared the petition. "The people mistakenly assume that we have to try to control these giant corporate repeat offenders one toxic spill at a time, one layoff at a time, one human rights violation at a time. But the law has always allowed the attorney general to go to court to simply dissolve a corporation for wrongdoing and sell its assets to others who will operate in the public interest. California attorneys general haven't often done it because they've become soft on corporate crime. Baseball players and convicted individuals in California get only three strikes. Why should big corporations get endless strikes? "

Benson said that the attorney general of New York recently asked a court to revoke the charters of two corporations that allegedly put out deceptive scientific research for the tobacco industry, and a judge in Alabama has asked his state courts to dissolve the tobacco companies themselves. In California, according to Benson, in 1976 conservative

Republican Attorney General Evelle Younger asked a court to dissolve a private water company for allegedly delivering impure water to its customers.

Unocal, the petition alleges on information and belief, was principally responsible for the notorious 1969 oil blowout in the Santa Barbara Channel, and since then has grievously polluted multiple sites from San Francisco to Los Angeles, has been identified as a potentially responsible party at 82 "Superfund" or similar toxic sites, has committed hundreds of violations of the Occupational Safety and Health Act, treats U.S. workers unethically and unfairly, has usurped political power, has undermined U.S. foreign policy, and has engaged in a pattern of illegal deceptions of the courts, stockholders and the public.

Additionally, the groups allege, Unocal has been complicit in "unspeakable" human rights violations perpetrated by foreign governments with which it has business ties in Afghanistan and Burma. The company's dealings with the Taliban militia in Afghanistan, known for its extremely cruel treatment of women, have particularly enraged women's groups.

Katherine Spillar, national coordinator for the Feminist Majority Foundation, one of the petitioning groups, denounced Unocal for its business dealings with the Taliban to build a gas pipeline which would bring the regime revenue and legitimacy. "If Unocal thinks it can do business with a regime that, in effect, denies women their right to exist as human beings, then we think Unocal's privilege to exist as a corporation must also be denied,"


Media Resources: Feminist Majority - September 10, 1998

© Feminist Majority Foundation, publisher of Ms. magazine

If you liked this story, consider making a tax-deductible donation to support Ms. magazine.



Send to a Friend

More Feminist News

10/12/2015 Report Finds Texas' HB2 Increases Abortion Wait Times - A new report released by the University of Texas at Austin, Texas Policy Evaluation Project found patients seeking abortions in Texas have experienced an increase in wait times since the passage of HB2, the 2013 Texas omnibus anti-abortion bill that attempts to cut off abortion access by requiring abortion providers in the state to fulfill medically unnecessary ambulatory surgical center requirements and secure hospital admitting privileges. More than half of 42 clinics providing abortion in Texas have been forced to shut their doors since HB2 passed two years ago, leading Texas women to wait up to 20 days for a first consult at one of the surviving 18 reproductive health clinics operating in the state, the second most populous in the nation. . . .
10/9/2015 Federal Judge Orders Anti-Abortion Group to Cede Footage to NAF - On Tuesday, a federal judge ruled that anti-abortion group Center for Medical Progress (CMP) and its leader David Daleidan must turn over all previously unreleased "sting" videos and outtakes of National Abortion Federation (NAF) meetings the group obtained surreptitiously as part of a smear campaign against the abortion provider. U.S. . . .
10/9/2015 Women Scientists Receive Less Funding Than Their Male Peers, Study Finds - According to a new study published by the Journal of the American Medical Association, male scientists receive twice as much financial support to kickstart their careers in science and medicine as their female counterparts, an early career inequity that could limit professional opportunities for women scientists throughout their working lives. Conducted by Health Resources in Action (HRiA), analysts studied 219 biomedical researchers who had applied for early-career grant funding at 55 New England hospitals, universities and research facilities between 2012 and 2014. . . .