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Top 10 Reasons to Join the "We Divest" Campaign

by Anna Baltzer, National Organizer
September 20th, 2011

Top 10

“We Divest”
is a campaign to compel retirement fund giant TIAA-CREF to stop investing in companies that profit from the Israeli occupation, specifically: Caterpillar, Motorola, Veolia, Northrop Grumman, and Elbit Systems. The campaign was launched by Jewish Voice for Peace, endorsed by the US Campaign to End the Israeli Occupation, and has been taken on by groups around the country in a diverse coalition including the American Friends Service Committee, Grassroots International and Adalah-NY, among others. The “We Divest” Campaign stands out as one of the most important and accessible divestment campaigns in the country today. Here are some reasons it could be the perfect campaign for your community!

  1. The research is already done for you. Once you know that an institution offers TIAA-CREF to employees, you don’t have to do research on investment holdings or choose viable corporate targets because all that is already done and ready. It’s easy as pie to find out if an institution offers TIAA-CREF. Just call Human Resources and ask. It takes two minutes!

  2. hanthalaThe campaign was chosen as a priority by the BDS National Committee, the Palestinian coordinating body of the BDS movement. In other words, this is something that Palestinian civil society has asked U.S. organizers to do.

  3. TIAA-CREF is everywhere, with clients in every U.S. town and city (including most academic institutions) and offices in 60 cities. This allows groups around the country to join forces and support each other on one unifying campaign.

  4. You have support. Since so many are working on this campaign, there are others to learn from and resources ready to use, such as fact sheets and a TIAA-CREF student organizing kit. There are frequent nationwide local organizers conference calls as well as a website for connecting and supporting organizers. And since it was endorsed by the US Campaign coalition, we can devote time to supporting groups on this campaign along with the organizing groups.

  5. TIAA-CREF cares about social responsibility. We are holding TIAA-CREF to the standard which it touts, and with enough pressure they are much more likely to comply than a financial firm that is solely concerned with profits (plus, some of these companies are not particularly profitable investments anyway).

  6. You’re working to convince natural allies. Rather than trying to convince the board of investors, you are tasked with convincing professors, university staff, unions, churches, and other people more likely to be sympathetic than the average Joe. TIAA-CREF clients are often people who care about social responsibility.

  7. You’re not asking TIAA-CREF clients to divest their retirement holdings. You’re asking them to call on TIAA-CREF to divest from the five specific companies. That way, clients don’t have to personally sacrifice much to support the campaign.

  8. Stop CaterpillarThe campaign is flexible. There are many different angles to take, all of which contribute to the campaign. At a university, you can try for a faculty resolution, student body recommendation, departmental statement, etc. There’s also shareholder activism or protesting outside TIAA-CREF offices. You can also focus on just one specific company within the campaign, like Caterpillar, Motorola, and Veolia, and that will also build it. The campaign builds on pre-existing campaigns against all five individual companies.

  9. It can help you find new allies. There’s a database of more than 24,000 divestment petition signatories where you can find out pre-existing campaign supporters in your area. You’d be surprised how many pop up, some of whom you might not have even known were allies!

  10. It would be a substantial economic blow. TIAA-CREF is the largest fund of its kind, with billions in investments. Its divestment would send a powerful signal to other companies violating international law by abetting the occupation.

This is a winnable campaign! BUT... it's too big to succeed without substantial participation from around the country. Please consider starting a campaign at a local campus, NGO, church, hospital, or other institution offering TIAA-CREF today! Click here to get started…