From: Patricia Ireland, Kim Gandy, Karen Johnson & Elizabeth Toledo
Subject: Women's History Month Call to Action
Date: February 20, 1998
WOMEN-FRIENDLY WORKPLACE CAMPAIGN VICTORY
As you may have read in the National NOW Times, the most recent development in this campaign is a settlement agreement proposed in the sexual harassment and sex discrimination case against Smith Barney. The proposed settlement is a major breakthrough in NOW's Women-Friendly Workplace Campaign. Smith Barney executives have agreed to a landmark departure from the onerous practice of mandatory arbitration of employment discrimination complaints. Last year, Mitsubishi also settled with all but two of the plaintiffs in the private civil suit against the company. The details of that settlement are confidential.
Sources close to both cases claim that NOW's Women-Friendly Workplace Campaign facilitated settlement negotiations. Thanks to the hard work of NOW activists across the country, we have seen both Mitsubishi and Smith Barney take serious steps to improve their workplaces and compensate women who have suffered harassment and discrimination.
PROBLEMS STILL EXIST
Despite the settlements, there are still important issues up in the air at both Mitsubishi and Smith Barney. The massive EEOC suit against Mitsubishi remains unresolved. At Smith Barney, employees are still required to sign away the right to file discrimination and harassment complaints in court. Further, two of the women who initiated the suit against the securities industry giant have not yet settled their cases.
We must not allow the progress in these cases to decrease our efforts. There is still much work to be done. The Merchant of Shame distinction will not be lifted from either Smith Barney or Mitsubishi until all of the outstanding issues are resolved. That means we need your help to keep the pressure on these companies.
We will continue to monitor Smith Barney's and Mitsubishi's efforts closely. We will also step-up our campaign by pressuring the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) to approve and implement a proposed National Association of Securities Dealers (NASD) rule change eliminating mandatory arbitration of employment discrimination claims in that industry.
WOMEN'S HISTORY MONTH ACTIONS
We are encouraging you -- and NOW activists across the country -- to organize Women-Friendly Workplace demonstrations to celebrate Women's History Month (March). The protests should target the SEC or companies on your chapter's or state's local Watch List.
If you are in a city that has a regional SEC office, we ask that you organize a protest there. Thanks, in part, to the hard work of NOW activists, we are very close to eliminating mandatory arbitration in the securities industry. We know that demonstrations at all of the SEC offices in the country will have an important impact.
INTERNATIONAL WOMEN'S DAY ACTIONS
Women in Afghanistan are facing terrible attacks every day. The extremist religious Taliban government, which controls two-thirds of Afghanistan's people, has banned approximately 9 million women and girls from attending school or working outside of the home. Women may not leave their homes unless escorted by a male relative. A woman who refuses to abide by this sexist policy could lose her life -- many have!
Despite the horrendous human rights violations in Afghanistan, Unocal, a U.S. oil and gas company, has given the University of Nebraska $900 thousand to train Afghan men for a pipeline project planned by Unocal. Why would a U.S. company invest in a country that denies women and girls basic rights? The answer is simple: money.
That's right, Unocal -- the same company that owns the popular 76 gas stations which dot the nation's interstates and other public highways -- wants to build an oil pipeline in Afghanistan -- an estimated $4½ billion project. While Unocal espouses an official policy of neutrality toward the Taliban, the company has entertained Taliban leaders on U.S. visits. Further, Unocal continues to move forward with pipeline plans.
On International Women's Day (March 8th), we will join the international feminist community in demonstrations to be held around the globe to call attention to the plight of Afghan women and girls. If your chapter is planning an International Women's Day action, we ask that you use that action as an opportunity to discuss the attacks against women in Afghanistan.
Whether you take a minute of silence to remind people of the horrors Afghan women and girls face or distribute information about the Taliban (please see the fact sheet), please make your local action part of the global effort to stop the subjugation of women and girls in Afghanistan.
To facilitate your organizing efforts, we have enclosed a sample news release for the actions against the SEC and a list of Women-Friendly Workplace related products available from the NOW store. Also available is a fact sheet on women and girls in Afghanistan and a petition (in Wordperfect format). Please be sure to include chapter membership building and fund-raising activities as part of every action.
If you have any questions about this campaign, please contact Loretta Kane at extension 762 in the Action Center. And be sure to let us know if you plan an action. We want to include your chapter's action in our national news releases and media outreach efforts. Also be sure to take pictures of your actions and send them to us for use in the National NOW Times. (Please note that photographs sent to the Action Center will become part of NOW's national photo archives and will not be returned.)
Thank you for your efforts on this campaign. With your continued hard work, we look forward to celebrating NOW's next Women-Friendly Workplace Campaign victory very soon!