Have You Caught the Veolia Bug Yet?
Have you caught the Veolia bug yet? Watch out, because it's catching.
Last July, member group North Coast Coalition for Palestine (NCCP) caught the attention of corporate America, multinationals, and official representatives of the State of Israel when they challenged renewal of a local contract with Veolia, a multinational corporation that services illegal Israeli settlements with a landfill, wastewater treatment plant, tramway, and buses on settlers-only roads. It was historic. In a stirring 5-hour session of testimonies by Sonoma County, CA residents put the Israeli occupation and Veolia on trial. Click here to read the moving story...
A town hall style hearing on Veolia can be one of the most educational, empowering, community-building, and media-garnering strategies out there. These hearings are a magnificent manifestation of people vs. power, of the 99% vs. the 1%. This is what the future of our movement could look like.
Intrigued? Here's how you can start your own Veolia campaign.
Veolia is also infamous for privatizing public resources, disastrous environmental practices, labor abuses, mismanagement, embezzlement, bribery, corruption, and fraud, making it an excellent campaign for joint struggle coalition-building. It is also a compelling as a target because of the parallels between buses on segregated roads in Palestine and segregated buses in the Jim Crow South, as highlighted by the Palestinian Freedom Riders. Member groups St. Louis Palestine Solidarity Committee and St. Louis Jewish Voice for Peace are working with environmental activists, public workers, civil rights leaders, veterans, local business owners, Christian and Muslim community members, students, and others to challenge a proposed Veolia water contract in St. Louis.
In an exciting turn of events, St. Louis mayoral candidates took sides over the contract, elevating the campaign to mainstream local political discourse. Campaign literature criticizing Veolia came to the doorstep of city residents. Activists bird-dogged the candidates at every turn, prompting the mayor to issue an official statement acknowledging Palestinian rights and environmental concerns, taking the contract off the table until residents could air their concerns in a public hearing. Now St. Louis groups, like the NCCP, are preparing to put the occupation and its corporate enablers on trial too.
Click here to learn how you can start a Veolia campaign!
The world's flagship BDS (boycott, divestment, sanctions) target, Veolia has lost over $16 billion in contracts worldwide following campaigns, recently prompting financial expert Hege Sjo to admit the dear cost imposed by such campaigns. Major banks, municipalities, and other significant bodies have severed financial ties to the company following pressure from trade unions, Ministers of Parliament, students, pension fund boards, church task forces, and others. Recently, United Nations Special Rapporteur to the Palestinian Territories Richard Falk also called for a boycott of Veolia.
As if that weren't enough, now Veolia has the strengthening U.S. movement to contend with. Activists from Los Angeles to Boston are taking Veolia to task in their city councils and municipal departments. Veolia withdrew from bidding on a water contract in Yolo County, CA following a campaign led by coalition member group Davis Committee for Palestinian Rights. And the Quaker Friends Fiduciary Corporation, which handles investments for hundreds of Quaker institutions nationwide, divested from Veolia and Hewlett Packard following concerns from Palestinian rights advocates.
The national We Divest Campaign, with more than a dozen active campaigns around the U.S., is also calling on financial giant TIAA-CREF to divest from Veolia, among other companies. Hundreds of TIAA-CREF clients have signed onto a shareholders resolution focused on Veolia, seeking the largest BDS referendum in U.S. history when ballots are distributed to millions of investors. So campaigning locally against Veolia also strengthens national campaigns!
Need any more reasons to start a Veolia campaign? Click here to learn more about why it could be right for your community.
Veolia is everywhere. This is something every community group can do, not limited to campuses, churches, and other niches. Some U.S. contracts are listed here, and there are many others that a quick search will yield. Still can't find Veolia contracts? Great! Start a campaign to declare your community "Veolia-free!"
And remember, Veolia is just one possibility. Consider organizing to pass a City Council resolution against military aid to Israel, freeing funds for unmet needs in your community. Click here to check out our "Fund Community Needs, Not Israel's Misdeeds" website and How-To Guide!
Let's show Veolia that as long as it profits from the suffering of Palestinians, it will feel the pressure from all directions as we, around the world, implement local, grassroots campaigns with truly global reach. Get started on a Veolia campaign today!