OAKLAND, CA - April 14 - While close to 40 protestors from the Stop Cat Coalition marched outside, investors inside the annual Caterpillar, Inc. meeting in Chicago were the first stockholders ever asked to investigate a US corporations role in the violation of human rights in the Palestinian occupied territories. Pending final verification by an inspector of elections, four percent voted for a shareholder resolution calling for Caterpillar to conduct an internal investigation to determine whether their sale of bulldozers to Israel violates the Cat good global citizen code of conduct. A three percent minimum was required to enable the resolution to be re-introduced next year.
The resolution was filed by Caterpillar shareholders Sisters of Loretto and the Mercy Investment Program at the request of the California-based peace group Jewish Voice for Peace (JVP). JVP member Sydney Levy said, We were thrilled by this strong show of support. The fact that we got 4% of the vote, even though Caterpillar urged a no vote, means we will be back next year with the same resolution, and an even stronger coalition. Global media coverage of the vote shows that people are interested in corporate accountability, especially on this issue.
At the Caterpillar meeting, JVP co-director Liat Weingart told stockholders, In the Arab world, the name Caterpillar has become synonymous with the destruction of homes, with destroying infrastructure rather than building it. Caterpillar bulldozers are tools of war, said Mary Ann McGivern of the Sisters of Loretto. Caterpillar is an arms dealer, sharing in responsibility for the horrendous use of those weapons.'' Cheryl Broderson, the aunt of Rachel Corrie, an American who was crushed by an Israeli Caterpillar bulldozer just over a year ago, also made a plea for the resolution.
Members of the Stop Cat coalition are expecting up to 1,000 human rights activist from across the country in Peoria,IL where Caterpillar is based on April 23. Individuals will participate in nonviolent civil disobedience and demand that Caterpillar end sales to Israel. (see http://www.stopcat.org)