In 1933, granite workers in the city of Barre, Vermont (VT), United States labored under nation-wide economic distress. The Great Depression was in its fourth year — a monumental stock market crash throughout much of the world in 1929, combined with a massive drought in the US, placed strain on the capitalist system, putting millions out of work and causing wages and job growth across the country to reverse. Granite companies began cutting staff and offering lower pay raises.
In 2015, when a number of maquiladora workers in Ciudad Juárez, Mexico took a stand for better working conditions, one of the companies impacted was CommScope, a manufacturer of telecommunications infrastructure. Based in North Carolina, the company employed 3,000 workers in its Ciudad Juárez factory.
The enclosure system involved fencing off plots of arable land. The land would then be deeded to an individual or group of owners who could use it as they saw fit. Despite slowly losing access to the commons, commoners preserved their access to rights of ways (the right to pass through someone else’s or public property on a specific path), even those now enclosed on private land, through the countryside. Foot paths, roads, carriageways, and trails were considered highways to which all individuals had the right of way.
On 8 December 1965, the British government passed the Race Relations Act, the first legislation to address racism and xenophobia in the United Kingdom. The act addressed significant disparities in the UK, like the 1963 Bristol Bus Boycott, which demonstrated against income and work inequalities faced by West Indian and African communities. The act made it a civil offense to incite racial violence and for businesses to not serve people based on race.
South Heidelberg is a rural Pennsylvania community in Berks County with natural gas reserves. On 3 March 2014, the South Heidelberg planning commission gave preliminary approval to a Canadian corporation, EmberClear,to construct a gas-to-liquids (GTL) facility in the town. The facility would primarily harvest natural gas resources from the town.
The Science, Technology and Advanced Research (STAR) campus, a satellite campus of the University of Delaware (UD) is located just half a mile from the primary campus in Newark, Delaware. During the efforts to fully develop the STAR campus, UD offered to lease 43 acres of the campus to The Data Center (TDC) to build a 900,000 square foot data center with an attached 279 megawatt natural gas power plant, an amount five times the energy demand of the city of Newark.
On 19 September 1990, the International Olympic Committee (IOC) awarded the city of Atlanta the contract to host the 1996 Summer Olympics. The Atlanta Committee for the Olympic Games (ACOG) believed that by hosting the Olympics, Atlanta would be able to reinvent itself as an international city, and investment in the Games would help fuel urban development. The Committee leaned on the city of Atlanta’s strong civil rights history to secure the bid.
PT Kizone, an apparel factory in Tangerang, Indonesia, held major contracts with Nike and Adidas. In September of 2010, the factory started to withhold its workers’ severance pay. In January 2011, the factory failed to pay its workers their monthly compensation. At the end of the month, the owner of PT Kizone, Jin Woo Kim, fled to his home country of South Korea. The factory declared bankruptcy and closed on 1 April 2011. PT Kizone fired all its workers, to whom the factory owed $3.4 million in severance compensation.
The Lusty Lady was a strip club in San Francisco. Opened since 1976, this North Beach club featured exotic dancers “Lusties” in a peep show on a stage and in individual booths. While being one of the most popular spots for nightlife in the city, the Lusty Lady was infamous among the dancers for its random firings and pay cuts, racist and ambiguous shift policies, and no-sick-day rules. According to Antonia Crane, a former stripper at the Club, “[the Lusty Lady] is playing the notoriously exploitative game in the adult entertainment world.”
Between 1970 and 1976, Russell Bliss used a toxic mixture of motor oil and dioxin to spray the unpaved roads in Times Beach, MO. The community hired Bliss, a career waste disposer, to reduce its dust problem. Unbeknownst to residents of the small town, Independent Petrochemical Corporation (IPC) paid Bliss for the disposal of its hazardous dioxin waste. Under the auspices of Northeastern Pharmaceutical and Chemical Company (NEPACCO), IPC generated dioxin through its production of Agent Orange during the Vietnam War.
In 2009, the Century Aluminum factory in Ravenswood, West Virginia laid off 650 employees. However, the factory promised those laid off and those forced to retire that they would continue to receive their health care benefits. Retirees were shocked in June 2010 when the factory announced they were cutting the healthcare plan for retirees. Karen Gorrell, a leader of the ensuing movement to regain health care, stated, “[When the retirees are] actually beginning to suffer from the exposure [from hazardous chemical exposure], then the company comes in and just pulls out the rug.”
From 1943 to 1982, Escambia Treating Company (ETC) operated in Pensacola, Florida. Located in an industrial/residential zone, the location of a wood treatment facility threatened the health of Escambia County residents, who were primarily Black. Until the mid-1950s, ETC dumped creosote and pentachlorophenol (PCP) into an uncovered pit. In March 1992, community members founded Citizens Against Toxic Exposure (CATE) and launched a five-year campaign for relocation of the 358 households closest to the Escambia plant.
In the early 1950s, Royal Dutch/Shell purchased land in the community of Diamond, Louisiana and built a chemical plant. Margie Richard, a Black resident of Diamond, founded Concerned Citizens of Norco (CCN) in 1989 after two large-scale accidents at the Shell/Motiva Chemical plant. A pipeline explosion in 1973 killed two Diamond residents, while another event in 1988 killed seven workers.
Divest SU – a group of concerned students at Syracuse University (SU) joined by activists at the nearby State University of New York College of Environmental Science and Forestry (SUNY-ESF) – started the SU Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign to fight for climate justice through demanding the school administration freeze new investments in fossil fuel companies and fully divest from the industry. This campaign was a part of an international student movement to pressure universities and colleges to stop investing in oil, coal and gas companies.
In Ethiopia, nine ethnic groups each inhabit their own land. The Oromo people are one of the largest groups and inhabit Oromia which is located on the border between South Sudan and Kenya and spreads into the center of Ethiopia. Populations of the Oromo people also live within the borders of South Sudan and Kenya, but the population is most concentrated within Ethiopia. The Oromo people of Ethiopia began conducting small scale street protests including marches and pickets in April, 2014 in response to their persecution and marginalization by the Ethiopian government.
In 1978, Chemical Waste Management Inc. (CWM), a subsidiary of Waste Management Inc. (WMX), bought 300-acres of land near Emelle, Alabama for a hazardous waste landfill. Residents did not have the opportunity to protest the landfill prior to its construction because CWM was not legally obligated to disclose information about land use.
In 2014, Brown University, a private research university located in Providence, Rhode Island, enrolled nearly 9,000 students and employed over 1,500 workers, more than a hundred of whom worked in the school’s libraries. The United Service and Allied Workers of Rhode Island (USAW-RI) is the workers union that represented nearly half of these library workers in addition to the school’s dining employees, parking officers, service responders, and mailroom drivers.
Brown University, a private Ivy League research university located in Providence, Rhode Island, enrolls nearly 9,000 students and employs over 1,500 workers, over a hundred of which are employed in the school’s libraries. The 2007-2010 collective bargaining agreement between the university and the United Service and Allied Workers Rhode Island (USAW-RI) Library Unit was officially set to conclude on 30 September 2010.
In December of 2013 at The University of Oregon, a group of students founded Divest UO, to persuade the University of Oregon Foundation (the Board of Trustees) to divest from the fossil fuel industry. Over the next two and a half years, Divest UO employed multiple tactics including a mock wedding, numerous sit-ins, and several teach-ins to achieve their goal.
In October of 2014, two students at the University of Mary Washington (UMW), Benjamin Hermerding, president of the Young Democrats, and Nate Levin, member of DivestUMW, requested an informal meeting with UMW administration to discuss the school’s investment portfolio. The open question-and-answer session focused primarily on the 5-year plan released by UMW’s Strategic Planning Task Force, which prioritized fiscally competitive investments.
Divest UMass – a group of concerned students – started the UMass Fossil Fuel Divestment Campaign to fight for climate justice through demanding divestment by the UMass Foundation from fossil fuel companies and promoting reinvestment of funds into projects that supported “social justice, equality, and sustainability.” This cross-campus campaign was a part of a multi-school, national student movement to pressure administrations at various universities and colleges to stop investing in fossil fuel companies.
Massachusetts residents block construction of Kinder Morgan Northeast Energy Direct pipeline 2014-2016
In September 2014, Tennessee Gas Pipeline Company, L.L.C. (TGP), a subsidiary of Kinder Morgan Energy Partners, L.P., proposed a 346-mile pipeline to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC). The proposal included two paths: a 220-mile “supply path” and a 126-mile “market path”. The Kinder Morgan Northeast Energy Direct pipeline (NED) would supply natural gas from fracking fields in Pennsylvania to energy companies in New England. TGP was a well-known gas supplier, having operated in the New England region for over 60 years.
Starting in 2008, the Brazilian government began commissioning nearly forty police pacification units (UPP) in over two-hundred of Rio de Janeiro’s shantytowns, known as favelas. This pacification project aimed to maintain security in territories after Rio’s special police unit (BOPE) cleared the communities of gang leaders and drug traffickers who, for decades, controlled the favelas and inspired their violent reputations.
Philadelphia Energy Solutions (PES) is a private oil and gas manufacturer that owns the largest oil unloading and refining facility on the East Coast of the United States. Labelled by the Environmental Protection Agency as a high priority violator since April 2012, the PES has long been criticized by environmentalist groups for releasing air and water pollutants and failing to comply with the Clean Air Act.
In 2008, students at Brown University’s Student Labor Alliance, a group of about 15-20 members, began a campaign to persuade their university to halt further investment in HEI Hotels Resorts. HEI, based in Norwalk, Connecticut, is one of the largest hotel management companies in the US and manages hotels such as Hilton, Hyatt, and Westin.