Communities of Faith and Ethical Convictions Must Come Together to Mitigate Climate Change
Because major religions agree they are stewards of creation, because climate change continues to advance unabated, and because it is detrimentally affecting our planet and each and every one of us creating a scenario of a bleak and tortuous future globally, culturally, socially, and economically…
THE PROBLEM: The acceleration of climate change continues unabated!
Pope Francis, in his 2015 Encyclical (Laudato Si – Care for our Common Home) clearly stated:
- Climate change is real
- Human activities are largely responsible
- Economic activity involving corporate greed is the primary active force contributing to climate change
- People of faith have an ethical duty to act
Attempts to impose restrictive regulations or legislation on emissions and other polluting activities have met with legal objections on the basis of a corporation’s “gifted” constitutional rights under the 5th and 14th amendments. As a result, courts have frequently ruled in favor of the corporation!
Communities of faith and ethical conviction alone have the influence and the cumulative power of numbers to mount an ethically-based demand to our government proposing and urging the passing of an amendment that reins in corporations; an amendment that restricts the power corporate donors have over legislators; and an amendment that ensures our laws and regulations will be ethically passed within the political process.
Communities of faith and ethical conviction exhibit many differences among themselves, some of which are strongly held, yet on the issue of responsibility as stewards of creation to act, there is unity and agreement.
National communities of faith and ethical conviction standing together highlighting the problem and demanding change, will bring the importance of the issue directly to the Executive and the Legislative branches of our Federal Government making the importance of the issue difficult to ignore.
Why can’t corporations be reined in?!
Our American independence was, to a great extent, achieved for the purpose of freeing the colonies from corporate domination (British East India Company and Crown Colonies –which were primarily setup to maximize profit for the King of England).
- Our constitution does not mention corporations – the individual states were given the responsibility of “chartering” corporations under strict rules of conduct.
- Charters were weakened only gradually until 1886 when an illegitimate Supreme Court decision (Santa Clara County v. Southern Pacific Railroad) gave corporations 14th Amendment Rights – rights which were intended to protect freed slaves.
- Since then Courts have also given corporations rights under the 1st, 4th, 5th, 6th, and 7th Amendments, resulting in their ability to successfully plead legal arguments in numerous cases against the interests of “We the People” and to protect their own profits.
- The 2010 decision: “Citizens United v. the Federal Election Commission (FEC)” was the final straw that removed restrictions on corporate money’s ability to control our elections via monetary donations in support of or against any political campaign (equating money with/as speech).
- Due to these so-called Corporate Constitutional Rights and the implied idea of money as speech, many cases involving attempts to rein in corporate actions (such as greenhouse gas emissions) are stymied by court decisions which end up protecting corporate rights which in turn leads to a government dominated by the dictates of corporations. This also institutionalizes an endorsement of greed that debilitates our political system and our actions towards and within the world in general.
SOLVING THE PROBLEM:
Only a constitutional amendment can undo decisions by the Supreme Court and return the rights to “We The People” alone.
o In today’s political environment the likelihood that such an amendment will be passed by Congress
via the normal political route is extremely low because politicians are controlled and benefit
politically by favoring the interests of corporations over those of the people.
o The alternative provided under Article V of the Constitution is that it takes 2/3 of the states to
request a convention to amend the Constitution. This is unlikely to happen and is fraught with
possible undesirable and unintended consequences.
o Only a concerted effort by the major national faith and ethical conviction communities working
together on many fronts has the likelihood of success!
The passage of an amendment to eliminate corporate constitutional rights and money as speech would have the following effect, both immediately and over time:
- Render the Citizens United 2010 decision invalid.
- Lead to the passage of laws and regulations that could place reasonable but effective restrictions on the activities of corporations that are today contributing significantly to accelerating climate change.
- Permit changes to restore justice and democracy to a significant range of other issues that today are leading to increasing levels of injustice, poverty, inequality, racial and ethnic oppression, voter repression, and many issues that are stalled by corporate oppression.
- Return the leadership role that the United States has traditionally enjoyed in the world and by our example, to set a precedent for other nations to follow suit.
For Information or questions:
Organized Labor and Move to Amend
Move to Amend Continues Labor’s Own Proud History…
Organized labor has been critical in the struggles for social and economic justice in this country. We should be familiar with this history -- not because we want to schmooze or flatter -- but to make the case that support of Move To Amend and our “We the People” Amendment is part of that legacy. Below are four basic facts about the historic importance of organized labor.
1. Unions Gave Us The Weekend: In 1870, the average workweek for most Americans was 61 hours — almost double what most Americans work now. Yet in the late nineteenth century and the twentieth century, labor unions engaged in massive strikes in order to demand shorter workweeks so that Americans could be home with their loved ones instead of constantly toiling for their employers with no leisure time. By 1937, these labor actions created enough political momentum to pass the Fair Labor Standards Act, which helped create a federal framework for a shorter workweek that included room for leisure time.
2. Unions Helped End Child Labor: Union organizing and child labor reform were often intertwined in U.S. history, with organization’s like the National Consumers’ League and the National Child Labor Committee working together in the early 20th century to ban child labor. The very first American Federation of Labor (AFL) national convention passed, “a resolution calling on states to ban children under 14 from all gainful employment” in 1881, and soon after states across the country adopted similar recommendations, leading up to the 1938 Fair Labor Standards Act which regulated child labor on the federal level for the first time.
3. Unions Won Widespread Employer-Based Health Coverage: The rise of unions in the 1930’s and 1940’s led to the first great expansion of health care for all Americans, as labor unions banded workers together to negotiate for health coverage plans from employers. In 1942, the US set up a National War Labor Board. It had the power to set a cap on all wage increases. But it let employers circumvent the cap by offering “fringe benefits” – notably, health insurance.” By 1950, half of all companies with fewer than 250 workers and two-thirds of all companies with more than 250 workers offered health insurance of one kind or another.
4. Unions Spearheaded The Fight For The Family And Medical Leave Act: Labor unions like the AFL-CIO federation led the fight for this 1993 law, which “requires state agencies and private employers with more than 50 employees to provide up to 12 weeks of job-protected unpaid leave annually for workers to care for a newborn, newly adopted child, seriously ill family member or for the worker’s own illness.”
Move To Amend Is A Growing Movement That Labor Should Be Part Of…
- In 2009 12 people launched Move To Amend.
- Today, we have approximately 400,000 supporters.
- Over 1,000 organizations have endorsed our call to abolish corporate constitutional rights and money as political speech (including many unions).
- Over 700 city councils or county boards have endorsed a constitutional amendment.
- We have placed this issue on the ballot in over 300 jurisdictions to allow voters to express their opinion on the issue—and we have won ever single time! (NOTE: This includes very progressive places like San Francisco, Madison and Boston. It also includes very conservative places like Waukesha, WI, which is the home town of Republican Tea Party Governor Scott Walker. They haven’t voted for a Democrat for Congress or President in over 40 years, but passed the Move To Amend language by 76% of the vote. In Montana, the issue passed by over 75% in a statewide election.
Organized Labor is Already Coming on Board with Several Endorsements
- American Federation of Teachers
- International Longshore and Warehouse Union
- American Federation of Government Employees
Statewide/regional endorsements from:
- Dayton Miami Valley AFL-CIO Regional Labor Council
- Florida AFL-CIO
- Greater Northwest Ohio AFL-CIO
- Minnesota AFL-CIO
- New York State Council of Machinists
- North Carolina AFL-CIO
- South Carolina AFL-CIO
- SEIU Minnesota State Council
- West Virginia State Council of Machinists
- Association of Federal, State, County & Municipal Employees (AFSCME) Local 1684
- Central Labor Council of Anchorage
- Central Labor Council of Humboldt & Del Norte Counties (CA)
- International Association of Theatrical Stage Employees, Local 60 (Pensacola, FL)
- North Shore Labor Council
- Saint Paul Regional Labor Federation AFL-CIO
- SEIU Local 503, Oregon Public Employees Union
- United Auto Workers, Local 2865 (CA)
- United Auto Workers, Local 5810 (CA)
Transnational Corporations Frequently Use the Courts and the Doctrine of “Corporate Rights” Against Workers…
Lochner v. New York, 198 U.S. 45, (1905) the U.S. Supreme Court held that a New York state law limiting work hours to 10 hours in a day and 60 hours in a week was an unconstitutional infringement of the corporate and individual liberty of contract as protected by the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment.
Adair v. United States, 208 U.S. 161 (1908) and Coppage v.Kansas, 236 U.S. 1 (1915) the U.S. Supreme Court held that a federal law prohibiting employers from firing employees who joined a union was an unconstitutional infringement of the freedom of contract between employer and employee.
Adkins v. Children's Hospital of District of Columbia, 261 U.S. 525 (1923) In Adkins, the U.S. Supreme Court held that federal minimum wage legislation for women and children was an unconstitutional infringement of the corporate and individual liberty of contract as protected by the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment.
Moorehead v. New York ex rel. Tepaldo, 298 U.S. 587 (1936) In Moorehead, the U.S. Supreme Court reaffirmed Adkins and held that a state minimum wage law for women was an unconstitutional infringement of the corporate and individual liberty of contract as protected by the due process clause of the Fifth Amendment.
Harris vs. Quinn (2014) The Supreme Court held that that home health care workers in Illinois cannot be compelled to financially support a union if the employees find the union’s advocacy work distasteful—even if the union negotiates their contracts and represents them in grievances. Illinois is one of 26 states that require public-sector workers — such as firefighters, police officers and teachers — to pay partial dues, often known as “agency fees,” to the unions that represent them.
➤➤ Talking Points for Organized Labor - PDF
- Top Reasons Why Labor Supports Move to Amend
- Labor "Rap" for Outreach to Organized Labor
- Model Labor Union or Central Labor Council Resolution in Support of Move to Amend and the We the People Amendment
- Handout: Labor Organizations Supporting Move to Amend
- Handout: Expand Human and Worker Rights
Corporate Personhood Talking Points
- When corporations have constitutional rights, peoples' rights become meaningless. How can one human being’s power to speak compare to a massive corporation’s ability to speak?
- A corporation has millions of dollars, exists in many places at once; can live forever; and employs thousands to do its work around the clock. It controls politicians, the media, and the economy. A human being has little expendable income, lives in one place, dies, and must use her small amount of free time to work for causes she believes in.
- A human being needs clean air, clean water, food, and love to survive. A corporation does not.
- A corporation has no mind, no conscience, and no motive but to amass money. A human being thinks, tries to make ethical decisions, and is motivated by obligations to family and community. How could we say that these two dramatically different kinds of “persons” have an equal voice in a democracy?
- The Supreme Court has ruled that money equals speech. The corollary is this: people who have money can speak, and people who don’t, can’t. This is a plutocracy, not a democracy.
- To put this power imbalance in perspective, consider this: It took over 1 million individual donors to raise about $750 million for Obama's presidential campaign in 2008. $750 million is approximately five percent of ExxonMobil's third quarter profits in 2008, five percent of Bank of America's profits in 2007; 37.5 percent of Goldman Sachs's first quarter profits in 2009; 18 percent of JP Morgan Chase's third quarter profits in 2009; 25 percent of Ford's profits in 2009 five percent of Philip Morris's profits in 2008.
- Human rights are for humans. A corporation is not a human being.
- The word corporation does not occur in the Constitution. Corporations had to use unelected, unaccountable judges to give them rights.
- Corporations exist to serve the public welfare, not for the public to serve them. The Supreme Court has created a Frankenstein scenario in which the people’s creations now control the people.
- A person is a private entity with rights and sovereignty. A corporation is a public entity with obligations and responsibilities.
- The American Revolution was explicitly anti-corporate, and the revolutionaries made sure that corporations were tightly controlled.
- For the first seventy-five years after the Revolution, corporations could only exist if they served the public good.
- They were severely restricted in their activities: they had to be chartered by a vote of the state legislature, they could only exist for a certain number of years, they couldn’t own other corporations, they could be dissolved once they had earned a certain profit margin, they couldn’t donate to political or charitable causes, they had to operate in the state they were chartered in, their stockholders were local, they could only do the certain task they were chartered for, and they couldn’t own land that was necessary for carrying out business.
- Judge-made law is not democracy. We didn’t elect the Supreme Court justices, but they get to decide who does and doesn’t count in our democracy. Congress and the People should decide those issues.
- The sole purpose of a corporation is to amass profit and consolidate wealth. They are legally required and structurally designed to make money at any cost. This makes them dangerous to people and democracy.
- The structure of a corporation separates humans from their actions. They destroy responsibility and hijack decision-making. They make humans do things collectively that they would never do as individuals: poison water, deny healthcare, and destroy the planet.
- Every cause we care about and fight for is affected by corporate power.