Thursday, January 3, 2013

Hey, billionaires: We want respect, not charity

Last year was a very good one for billionaires, who made so much money they could afford to give a lot of it away.

It wasn't so good for the people who helped produce their wealth.

Bill Gates was $7 billion richer at the end 2012, despite making charitable gifts of $28 billion. Sadly, he couldn't find it in his heart to be respectful of the workers who contributed to his good fortune. Gates is the largest owner of Republic/Allied, a company that abuses its workers and the environment.

Gates wasn't the only billionaire who attacked working people but helped the poor. (Note: How do these billionaires think people end up poor anyway?)

Bloomberg reported 84 of the 100 richest people on the planet got richer in 2012. Many of them run companies that treat workers like serfs. They burnish their reputations (or is it "salve their consciences"?) through philanthropy. Bloomberg tells us:
Warren Buffett ... the Berkshire Hathaway chairman gained $5.1 billion during the year, even after donating 22.3 million Berkshire Class B shares in July to charity.
Message in Memphis for Bill Gates
Buffett's former employees may need charity. He bought the Manassas News and Messenger newspaper company last year, then fired all 150 of its employees six months later.

Bloomberg also tells us,
Koch Industries’ two other shareholders, the brothers Charles and David Koch, are each worth $40.9 billion, up 20.9 percent -- $7.1 billion -- for the year.
The Benedict Arnold Koch brothers give money to cancer research and the arts, but that's nothing compared to their funding of political machines to destroy workplace democracy, eradicate public education and impoverish the middle class.

But it's Bill Gates who's arousing Teamster ire this year.Business Insider reports,
...the Microsoft cofounder is getting wealthier (but)...Microsoft stock now accounts for less than 20 percent of his fortune. 
So if his wealth isn't just from Microsoft, where does Bill Gates invest? He's got a somewhat secretive investment company called Cascade Investment, according to documents filed with the SEC. From those filings we know that Gates owns stakes in companies like tractor maker Deere & Co; garbage collector Republic Services...
Here's what else we know: Gates is the largest owner of Republic/Allied stock, and his investment manager is on Republic's Board of Directors.

According to Wikipedia, his foundation: giving the International Bank for Reconstruction and Development US$1.2 million over three years to find new, sustainable ways to make water, sanitation and hygiene services safer and more affordable.
Republic/Allied Waste earns exorbitant profits through operating greenhouse gas-emitting landfills. It profits from fracking operations on its landfill property in Ohio. It operates a Missouri landfill that is currently on fire next to a nuclear waste site.

The Gates Foundation also runs a "Global Development Program" that combats extreme poverty through grants.

Gates must be okay with ordinary poverty. That's apparently what he wants for Republic/Allied workers.

In May, the company approved a $23 million death/disability benefit for its CEO Don Slager while 80 of its employees in Evansville, Ind. were locked out because they refused to let the company destroy their retirement.

Learn more about the Teamsters campaign to improve the lives of workers at Republic/Allied here.