Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Caterpillar CEO Jim Owens is pro-divestment?

Jim Owens, the CEO of Caterpillar, really knows how to endear himself to human rights advocates. The US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, along with allies and member groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace, Chicagoans Against Apartheid in Palestine, and the Sisters of Loretto, created a presence both inside and outside last week's Caterpillar shareholder meeting. Faced with a presentation from Matan Cohen of Hampshire College Students for Justice in Palestine and questions by human rights advocates including the National Organizer of the US Campaign, Owens repeatedly made statements to the effect that if shareholder don't like the way that CAT operates, they shouldn't hold stock in CAT. That's right. The CEO of Caterpillar is urging shareholders to divest! At the end of the meeting, one shareholder who was previously unfamiliar with Caterpillar's complicity in occupation and apartheid confided that his retirement had already been hit hard by corporations which have made bad P.R. moves or lost law suits. On his way out of the meeting, he stated that he would follow Jim Owens' advice to divest of Caterpillar stock. We're thrilled that Owens is recommending divestment, and thrilled that he is confirming human rights concerns about Caterpillar operations by comparing the company to notorious human rights abuser Coca-Cola, at one point saying "We're the Coca-Cola of the manufacturing world." Of course, these rare moments of candor only come along every so often. Act now to let Caterpillar's management know that you plan to take Owens' advice--and that you are going to urge your faith community, school, or union to do the same! (US Campaign supporters educate passersby about Cat's crimes at the June 10 shareholder meeting)