After fighting in World War One, American soldiers returned home to find that they had missed out on the chance to earn a significant amount of money while away. The average soldier was paid much less than the average factory worker during the First World War, and in an effort to win back some level of equity, WWI veterans lobbied Congress to compensate them for the wages they had lost out on while serving the country in combat. They carefully used the phrase "adjusted compensation" (instead of "bonus", a term used by their opponents) to describe the money they argued they were owed.
Greenpeace published its first “Guide to Greener Electronics” in August 2006 to rank technology companies based on their use of toxic chemicals and their participation in the disposal of their products.
When Oregonians received notice in 1968 that the Portland General Electric Company (PGE) planned to install a nuclear power plant in Rainier Oregon, concerned citizens began to work within the political structure to prevent the plant from entering the community. Based on the anti-nuclear sentiment in the US at the time, many Oregonians were wary of the environmental repercussions of a nuclear power plant. Many also considered the construction and upkeep of the plant an unwise allocation of state money.
When the University of California at Santa Cruz (UCSC) hired Chancellor Denice Denton in 2004 the transition entailed her earning a salary of $282,000 a year and $600,000 of renovations made on her future house of residence, including a controversial $30,000 dog run. This became a topic of debate; students as well as media critics quickly brought these details to light and demanded accountability for the choices of spending at the University. Under these circumstances, employees at the University began to call attention to the fact that they earned a less than living wage
Students at Washington University of St. Louis formed the Student Worker’s Alliance (SWA) in November 2003 after 36 Nicaraguan campus workers were fired and deported to Nicaragua. SWA aimed to “begin a living wage campaign” for all workers at the university.
A 2002 study found that 68% of the 2,100 hourly Tennessee public higher education employees were being paid less than a living wage of $9.50 per hour with benefits. Earning less than a living wage could force an employee to rely on public subsidies for food, healthcare, or housing. Inspired by this and similar statistics, United Campus Workers (UCW), which recently merged with the Communication Workers Association, launched its “UT Workers Need a Raise” campaign in October 2004, with the goal of a $1,200 across-the-board pay raise for all University of Tennessee employees.
Along with many student activists in United States universities in the late 1990’s and early 2000’s, the University of Buffalo Students Against Sweatshops (UBSAS) ran a campaign to pressure their university to join the Workers Rights Consortium (WRC). After years of student protests and demonstrations, the University of Buffalo (UB) announced that they would join WRC and the Fair Labor Association (FLA). The group of student activists feared that their university’s decision to also join the corporate-sponsored FLA would compromise the efforts and aims of workers’ rights groups.
In 1999, Students at Bucknell University formed a group called the Bucknell Caucus for Economic Justice (BCEJ). They took on research and conducted interviews to demonstrate the inferior conditions under which staff at Bucknell worked. In their research, the BCEJ consulted with the staff members at Bucknell University and discovered many incidents in which managers and supervisors infringed upon the rights of the staff members, often those in the lowest wage bracket.
In 1934 it had been a successful year for strikes in Milwaukee, which emboldened retail clerks at Sears, Roebuck and Company, and the Boston Store to demand higher wages. At the time most clerks earned below $14 a week, which they called “starvation wages.”
Since gaining independence from France in 1958, autocratic rulers have controlled Guinea and made it one of the poorest countries in the world despite the fact that the country is rich in aluminum. The first ruler, Ahmed Sékou Touré, held office for almost 30 years until his death. Lansansa Conté seized power through a coup d’état after this and maintained his rule until 2008 when he also died. Then, Moussa “Dadis” Camara seized control of the government through another coup d’état on December 23, 2008. Though the government remained fairly stable throughout this tim
The government began planning to build a hydroelectric dam on the Mun River (also called the Moon, Mul, and Mool River but referred to henceforth only as Mun) in the early 1980s. In 1989, the government approved the plans. In 1991, construction of the dam began and was completed four years later in January 1995. Not only did the dam cost almost twice as much money as the Thai government originally predicted, but it also resulted in substantially more damage to the ecosystem than early studies suggested.
Beginning in the 1970s anti-apartheid campaigns in the United States began to gain momentum as the governmental situation in South Africa grew increasingly worse. Across many fields there was a push to divest from South Africa in order to make the point that the United States did not support the actions of the South African government. The belief was that if the South African government was not receiving the large amounts of financial support that it did from the United States it would be forced to change its behavior.
In Fall 2007, the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) ordered the California Department of Food and Agriculture (CDFA) to spray an experimental pheromone-based pesticide over counties on the Central Coast of California. In doing so, the USDA aimed to eradicate the Light Brown Apple Moth (LBAM), a pest deemed highly destructive by the USDA. In order to conduct the test sprays, the USDA added $90 million to the CDFA budget.
This campaign was part of a greater movement of international opposition to Apartheid in South Africa. The divestment from South Africa was advocated in the United States in the 1960s, but support for divestiture did not reach full scale until the 1980s. The Stanford student solidarity sit-in campaign of 1977 came early on in the rise of this economic pressure.
In 2003, the University of California-Santa Cruz (UCSC) began the process of creating a Long Range Development Plan (LRDP) for the University. The LRDP, which was revised in 2005, would destroy 120 acres of redwood forest in the University’s upper campus and add 4,500 students to the school. Many students, faculty, staff, and Santa Cruz community members were outraged over the plan, seeing the destruction of the forest to be more than a development project; the area is home to endangered species such as the Burrowing Owl and the Red-Legged Frog. Additionally, the increase
Walpole was a maximum-security prison in South Walpole, Massachusetts. The campaign by prisoners under the National Prisoners Reform Association (NPRA) to take control of Walpole Prison, with support from citizen observers, formed part of a larger movement of opposition to cruelties of the prison system. At the time, prison abolition was on the agenda in U.S. society as an idea to consider. A 1971 prisoner takeover at Attica Prison acted as a lightning bolt by showing the horror of the prison yard. The NPRA emerged on a national level in this context.
Walpole was a maximum-security prison in South Walpole, Massachusetts. The Observer Program’s campaign to bring civilian volunteers into Walpole Prison formed part of a larger movement of opposition to cruelties of the prison system. It also coincided with, and helped to support, a campaign by inmates at Walpole under a local chapter of the National Prisoners Reform Association (NPRA) to take control of the prison. Read about the prisoners’ nonviolent campaign in this database: “U.S. prisoners take control of Walpole Prison, 1973”.
Mississippi catfish plant workers win wage increase and better working conditions in Indianola, 1991
Indianola, Mississippi is home to the Delta Pride catfish factory. Although Mississippi is among the poorest states in the US, catfish farming accounts for $350 million a year and is the state's largest agricultural industry. Owned by a cooperative of 400-500 white landowners, massive tracts of land in the Mississippi River Delta are artificially flooded to create ponds conducive to farming and processing catfish. While truck drivers and loaders tend to be African American men, most line workers are African American women, often single heads of households.
Beginning in 1948, the white “apartheid” government of South Africa forced the black majority to live as second-class citizens, condemned to poverty and restricted in their freedoms by a system of legalized oppression. On the other side of the globe, in the 1970s, progressive activists in the United States found themselves absent a cause after the end of the civil rights movement and Vietnam War. The blatant atrocity of apartheid seemed a good target. Activists realized that American corporations were supporting the apartheid regime by operating subsidiaries in South Afric
Formed in 1995, the WTO serves as an organization that facilitates trade amongst 123 nations. The first major protest against the WTO occurred in 1999 in Seattle, Washington. United States citizens were protesting the WTO’s ministerial conference because they claimed that the WTO was breaking down nation states’ sovereignty. Specifically they were concerned with workers’ rights and the concept of the “race to the bottom”, in which countries companies compete to pay their employees the lowest wages, resulting in massive employee exploitation.
In 2000, students at the University of California-Berkeley began to consider the use of divestment as a means of showing their dismay with the Israeli occupation of Palestine. On February 6, 2001, Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) formed and officially launched their campaign for divestment from corporations that supported the Israeli occupation. The group’s decision to launch a divestment campaign inspired colleges and universities nation wide to launch their own campaigns.
On August 3, 1981, nearly 13,000 of the 17,500 members of the Professional Air Traffic Controllers Organization (PATCO), a United States trade union, staged a walkout and strike. The union intended the strike to address four main concerns:
The Guatemalan people have endured numerous hardships throughout the years, but none more tragic than those perpetrated by the Guatemalan government and military during the country’s thirty-six year civil war. The Guatemalan civil war began in 1960, when a group of insurgents sought to depose the US-backed military government. The military had obtained complete authority in Guatemala by overthrowing the democratically elected President Jacobo Árbenz in 1957.
In 1983, Pakistan’s infamous Hudood Ordinances made it possible for the state to punish Safia, a blind 15-year-old victim of rape. Her crime? She was raped, but could not bring four male Muslim witnesses to prove it. The judge convicted Safia for adultery, ordered public flogging and sentenced her to three years in prison. Women’s activists from across Pakistan took to the streets to protest this judgment and the Hudood Ordinances that made the conviction possible.
In the late 1740s most people were suffering for lack of food on the east coast of China, in Jiangsu province. Grain prices were escalating and the people demanded that local government officials step in and establish price controls. They expected relief from the government against the merchants’ price-gouging, because of a cultural change that was happening in China at the time.