Bill Gates and Windsor, Colorado
Posted in the Windsor Forum
#1 Oct 9, 2007
Steelworkers Challenge Gates Foundation to Support Organizing Workers
District Director Bonds says ‘intervene in labor dispute or support unfairly fired workers’
United Steelworkers District 12 Director Terry Bonds sent Microsoft (NASDAQ: MSTF) founder Bill Gates a letter encouraging the billionaire to intervene in a labor dispute at Front Range Energy, an ethanol refinery in Windsor Colorado. Front Range Energy is 42% owned by Pacific Ethanol LLC (NASDAQ GM: PEIX), an ethanol production and marketing firm based out of Sacramento, California. Bill Gates is Pacific Ethanol’s largest shareholder.
The Steelworkers had previously called on Gates’ investment firm, Cascade Investment LLC to intervene in the dispute but did not receive a response. In this letter, District Director Bonds requested that the software billionaire either intervene in the dispute or provide economic support to refinery workers who are fighting for their first union contract.
District Director Bonds also suggested that Bill Gates set up a fund to support workers who are unfairly fired for exercising their legal right to form a union.“I propose that the Gates Foundation set up a fund to support the hundreds of workers who are illegally fired each year while attempting to join a union” Bonds suggested.“Employers habitually enlist campaigns of terror including threats, unfair discipline, and even illegal firings to intimidate workers who are working to form unions.”
The USW suggested that supporting organizing workers is a logical extension of the mission of the Gates Foundation. Bonds’ letter concludes,“You and your philanthropic foundation purport to work for justice and equality. I can find no better way to support those ideals than to use wealth to support workers who are struggling against great odds to exercise their basic human right to form a union and fight for justice and equality at work.”
The United Steelworkers is the largest industrial union in North America with 850,000 members.
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