Charlotte welcomed another Fortune 500 company recently as Governor Perdue and Chiquita CEO Fernando Aguirre announced the HQ is leaving Cincinnati for the sunny south. Chiquita is now the eighth Fortune 500 HQ located in Charlotte– such as Bank of America and Duke Energy. Charlotte is becoming home to some of the worst corporate actors in America.
The governor and the mayor of Charlotte were all smiles at the Chiquita announcement, focusing on jobs and money the company will bring to the area, not to mention the state incentives package of our tax dollars to lure Chiquita. But few journalists reported some of the dirty deeds of Chiquita – dirty deeds conducted under CEO Aguirre.
From 1997-2004 the company gave a terrorist organization in Columbia $1.7 million – an organization that killed civilians and intimidated banana workers and union leaders during a civil war in the country. Chiquita eventually pled guilty to a felony in the US and paid a $25 million fine. The company said it was trying to protect its workers by paying extortion money.
And more recently, the International Labor Rights Forum released a 2010 report that showed Chiquita was among the top five worst multinational corporations when it came to union organizing.
Bank of America (BoA) is no better –but they hurt American citizens. After its mortgage foreclosure program became a mill, the Massachusetts AG recently filed suit against several banks including BoA. The AG suit said the companies were fraudulent, used deceptive foreclosure practices without following the rules in order to fast track the process.
Meanwhile, over the past two years BoA has invested over $4.3 billion in coal – that’s your money if BoA is your bank. BoA is the largest underwriter of the coal industry in the country – it bankrolls mining, infrastructure investments and coal plants. And since we know that coal as an energy source is a huge contributor to climate change and serious human health problems, no one can deny BoA’s direct involvement.
Then there’s Duke Energy – on the verge of being the largest utility in the country, if and when the feds and state approve its proposed merger with Progress Energy. Recently amid public outrage and opposition by NC AG Roy Cooper and the Public Staff of the Utilities Commission, the company agreed to reduce its request for a rate hike of more than 17% to 7.2% – and in South Carolina compromised from 15% to 6%. Meanwhile CEO Rogers took in $8.8 million in compensation in 2010, up 27% from his $6.9 million in 2009. And under the agreement with the Public Staff, the shareholders will be allowed a 10.5% return on equity, which isn’t too shabby either. The company continues to build a new coal plant at Cliffside and is investing in plans to build a nuclear plant in South Carolina. Our electricity future needs a new path, not more of the same dirty energy and the same old business model.