Holding US corporation responsible for murder of Colombian trade unionists
lnp3 at panix.com
Fri Mar 22 08:10:50 MST 2002
NY Times, March 22, 2002
Alabama Coal Giant Is Sued Over 3 Killings in Colombia
By STEVEN GREENHOUSE
BIRMINGHAM, Ala., March 19 Decades ago, Alabama's mining companies had
more than their share of battles with the mine workers' union. In one
confrontation, the National Guard shot a pro-union minister to death in 1921.
In recent years, however, Alabama coal fields have been peaceful.
Now the state's largest mining business, the Drummond Company, has been
accused of encouraging the assassination of three union leaders at its
giant coal mine in Colombia. In a federal lawsuit filed here last week, a
union in Colombia and the families of the dead leaders assert that
Drummond's Colombian managers signaled paramilitary gunmen that they wanted
the officials killed.
Unions from Colombia have filed suits against Drummond and a handful of
other American companies doing business in that country, hoping to create
legal and public pressure to stop the assassinations. In the last decade,
more than 1,500 union officials have been killed in Colombia, where leftist
guerrillas are battling the government and business.
"We have evidence that the paramilitaries who killed the three union
leaders were in fact working for Drummond," said Terry Collingsworth,
president of the International Labor Rights Fund, a Washington advocacy
group that has worked with the United Steelworkers of America in suing
"We believe a lot of American companies are, in essence, taking advantage
of a bad situation in Colombia, where union leaders can be assassinated
with impunity," Mr. Collingsworth said.
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