TORONTO, Dec. 3 /CNW/ - The United Steelworkers (USW) today announced the 'winner' of the 2009 Global Bad Corporate Citizen Award is Roger Agnelli, CEO of mining conglomerate Vale S.A.
The award recognizes the Brazilian-based company's confrontations with workers and its impact on communities and the environment.
USW members and strikers from the U.S. and Canada will converge on the Waldorf Astoria hotel this evening to present the award to Agnelli.
Agnelli is expected in New York to receive a "Global Citizenship Award" from the Business Council for International Understanding, for "exceptional accomplishments in corporate social responsibility."
USW members, including 3,500 Canadian miners in the fifth month of a strike against Vale, are outraged the company's CEO is receiving such an award.
Vale purchased Canadian-based Inco Ltd. in 2006 and Inco's workforce immediately provided record returns - US $4.1-billion profit in two years. Vale's global operations earned a $13.2-billion profit last year.
Despite this massive profitability, Vale is demanding historic concessions from Canadian miners, to their pensions, profit-sharing, seniority rights and other hard-earned gains. These unprecedented demands have resulted in a lengthy strike by 3,500 workers and potential devastation to affected communities.
Meanwhile, Citizen Agnelli and Vale's five other top executives have had pay increases of 121% in two years, pulling down $33 million last year alone.
Organizations representing millions of workers on every continent have signed a declaration protesting Vale is attacking Canadian workers "for the purpose of setting a precedent (and) to export its anti-worker, anti-union practices in Brazil to the rest of the world."
"USW members have met with workers and union activists at numerous Vale operations worldwide," said USW International President Leo W. Gerard. "These workers tell us they and their communities face similar problems with Vale. We think all of this makes Vale a deserving recipient of the USW's Global Bad Corporate Citizen Award."
Vale Inco has long been one of Canada's top polluters, ranking 2nd and 3rd in on-site releases of toxins in the 2006 National Pollution Release Inventory. Yet the company lobbies government for an exemption from stricter pollution emission limits. Vale also lobbies government to allow mine waste disposal in healthy water bodies, proposing to dump tailings in a pristine Newfoundland lake.
Vale has been fined millions for environmental violations, including a penalty of about US$3 million in 2008 for the illegal sale of timber in Brazil and a 2003 fine of about US$3.5 million following a spill of toxic chemicals into a Brazilian river. Vale also sought a court injunction against Brazilian landless workers' protests rather than negotiate to resolve complaints of industrial pollution and flooding of homes.
In April 2009, a toxic acid spill from a Vale Inco plant in New Caledonia killed thousands of fish and affected a World Heritage site.
"These are not 'exceptional accomplishments in corporate social responsibility,' " said Gerard.
"To USW members, the idea that Vale or its leadership would be honored for 'good' corporate citizenship is a bad joke. It adds insult to injury for thousands of Vale workers, their families and their communities. And we believe it cheapens the integrity of the BCIU and sets a lousy example for future 'honorees.' "
The USW demonstration and 'award ceremony' will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. outside the Waldorf Astoria, 301 Park Avenue.
PHOTO OP: Giant 'Grim Reaper' puppet and miners from the 'Vale of
WHAT: USW Presents Global Bad Corporate Citizen Award
WHO: USW members from U.S. and Canada, including striking Canadian
WHEN: Dec. 3, 2009, 6 - 8 p.m.
WHERE: Waldorf Astoria hotel, 301 Park Avenue.
(Demonstrations also are planned today: during a Goldman Sachs
investors' conference attended by Vale, 10 a.m. - noon, Sheraton NY Hotel
and Towers, 811 7th Avenue (at 53rd Street); and outside corporate
offices of Mitsui, a Vale stockholder with a position on Vale's board,
3 - 4:30 p.m., 200 Park Ave. (by Grand Central Station and 42nd Street).
SOURCE United Steelworkers (USW)
For further information: For further information: Contacts: Canada: Bob Gallagher, USW Communications, (416) 434-2221, firstname.lastname@example.org; U.S.: Mike Zielinski, USW Strategic Campaigns, (240) 475-9845