How US activists are campaigning against Veolia
For general background, see our website campaign page Veolia – a case to answer
In an email Action Alert (dateline 16 August 2012), Anna Balzer of the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation draws attention to a very successful action in Sonoma County, California.
She reports that:
Last month, our newest coalition member group North Coast Coalition for Palestine caught the attention of corporate America, multinationals, and official representatives of the State of Israel when they challenged renewal of a local bus operating contract with Veolia, a French conglomerate heavily implicated in the Israeli occupation.
In a stirring 5-hour session of testimonies, Sonoma County, CA residents put the Israeli occupation and its corporate enablers on trial.
It was historic. The diverse, unpaid group of Palestinians, Jews, artists, teachers, students, veterans, and activists were simply asking for the local Commission on Human Rights to recommend that the Board of Supervisors investigate Veolia prior to renewing contracts in 2014. Their request prompted the multinational to fly in two Vice Presidents and the Israeli Consulate in San Francisco to send their Deputy Consul General to monitor and testify at the hearings.
This is what the future of our movement could look like – local communities putting the occupation and its US institutional supporters on trial in courthouses, town halls, and municipal departments across the nation, in truly grassroots and democratic campaigns with global reach.
The North Coast Coalition for Palestine recognises in its website posting Victory Against Veolia, that this is only a small step in the campaign.
Our group, the North Coast Coalition for Palestine, presented to the Commission for Human Rights of Sonoma County last Tuesday, 24 July 2012. We explained Veolia’s complicity in the Israeli occupation, and asked the Commission to recommend that our County Board of Supervisors make an investigation into Veolia before renewing their transportation contract in 2014.
We were delighted at how many members of our community joined in to speak out against a huge corporation. Our supporters that filled the room appeared much more compelling and organized than Veolia’s lawyers that flew in from across the country.
It was clear that we made a strong case, but we still have work to do. While nearly half of the Commission on Human Rights voted to take the conversation further, in the end the issue was closed by a ruling that our request was outside of the Commission’s jurisdiction, effectively telling us to move on and approach the Board of Supervisors.
As of now, we are preparing our next steps for our campaign. We are working with a small budget, and we will need support as we move forward….
As June Jordan wrote, “we are the ones we have been waiting for…”
Anna Balzer’s Action Alert continues with further news and practical information:
- How to find out if your US city has Veolia contracts?
- news that the organizers of the DumpVeolia, LA Campaign will be waging a similar effort to challenge renewal of Los Angeles city bus contracts with Veolia at a local Transportation Committee public hearing and asking people to sign a courteous and well-crafted petition (see below) asking the LA Department of Transportation and City Council, to stop doing business with Veolia
- reporting that member groups in Boston, Baltimore, Sacramento, and beyond have launched exciting Veolia campaigns. The national We Divest Campaign, with more than a dozen active campaigns around the U.S., is calling on financial giant TIAA-CREF to divest from Veolia, among other companies.
- Reporting on Veolia’s loss of contracts elsewhere in the world, amounting to an estimated $12.6 billion; and
- Encouraging everyone to get involved even if you “Don’t have local Veolia contracts? Great! Start a campaign to declare your community “Veolia-free”!”
Finally the Action Alert points out that “Veolia is just one possibility. Consider organizing to pass a City Council resolution against military aid to Israel, freeing funds for unmet needs in the community”. See the US Campaign’s “Fund Community Needs, Not Israel’s Misdeeds” website and How-To Guide.
For further information go to the Global Exchange website
Dear Los Angeles Department of Transportation and City Council Members,
We urge the City of Los Angeles Department of Transportation and the City of Los Angeles to honor its legacy of supporting human and civil rights by not renewing its contracts with Veolia Transportation or entering into any new contracts with it or any of its subsidiaries.
Veolia, a French Conglomerate, holds contracts with Israel to operate an ethnically segregated, apartheid-style transportation system designed to serve the Jewish settlements in the West Bank and East Jerusalem. In addition, it uses occupied Palestinian land as a dump site for waste from inside Israel and from the illegal Israeli settlements in the West Bank. The occupation of Palestine by Israel and the exclusive use of its land for Israeli citizens is a violation of international law and is condemned by the United Nations, international and Israeli human rights organizations and leading international figures like President Jimmy Carter and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.
From apartheid South Africa to Arizona, Los Angeles has a long history of standing for human and civil rights, including through its contracting and purchasing policies. We urge the city to continue this practice and cut all business ties to Veolia, joining other cities like Melbourne, West London, Bordeaux, Dublin, Edinburgh, Stockholm, and most recently The Hague.