Tuesday, June 10, 2003


Sometimes the cross-currents of life leave me uncertain as to whether I'm happy or sad.

The good news is that this week I joined Oxfam America in the staff position of "Senior Policy Advisor, Corporate Engagement." Since July of last year, I had been performing the same role but as a consultant. This new status as a staff member gives me the advantage of a steady salary with benefits. I'm also pleased that, for the first time, I will be a union member. Oxfam America staff in Boston are represented by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). I wanted a union card to flash around but I was disappointed to discover that I don't receive one.

In the past, I have had good experiences working with the SEIU. After the killing of Ken Saro Wiwa, the SEIU was one of several unions that joined my old firm, Trillium Asset Management, in filing shareholder resolutions at the American oil companies that helped prop up the Nigerian military junta. In 1998, Folabi Olagbaju, then at the SEIU and now Director of Amnesty USA's Just Earth Program, brought Cordelia Kokori to the annual shareholder meeting of Mobil, There she shamed Mobil Chairman Lucius Noto, into bringing up the case of her father, Frank Kokori, the leader of a Nigerian oil workers' union thrown in prison for leading a strike against the military junta. I felt privileged to stand by her at the AGM and afterwards write an article about it.

Meanwhile in Burma, another brave woman Aung San Suu Kyi was the victim of a brutal attack on her and her supporters. The attack, clearly instigated by Burma's ruling military junta, appears to be part of a dramatic escalation in the generals' repression of the Burmese democracy movement. As New England Coordinator of the Free Burma Coalition, I am playing my part in lobbying the U.S. Congress to enact tough new sanctions on Burma. After ten years of Free Burma activism, I am saddened that it remains necessary to do so.


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