First Hand Account of the Weyerhaeuser 2004 AGM
[while cruising for info on brother tre I can across this piece, far flippin out ~I love Canadian activists!!!]
Here's my account of the 2004 Weyerhaeuser Shareholder's AGM which I attended yesterday as a proxy shareholder.
"Weyerhaeuser's USA operations avoid old growth cutting, and "[their] mills long ago retooled or converted to the smaller logs produced by second- and third-growth forests, the exception is British Columbia, where the provincial government licenses old-growth forests for harvest."
The AGM was held at Weyerhaeuser Centcom on their massive sprawling complex 25 miles south of Seattle. Weyerhaeuser Way winds through acres of 2nd-growth forests of fir and cottonwood and leads right to their Corporate Headquarters building next to a large duck-pond with expansive landscaped, manicured golf-course style gardens. The HQ is festooned with extensive beds of the invasive forest-damaging English Ivy which drapes all down the sides of the building. Police were stationed at all intersections surrounding the convention and there was a very heavy private security presence throughout.
After registering at the front desk, I enquired if it would be possible to display the beautiful Big Tree poster created by Dr. Karen Wonders which was part of the presentation she made to the American Society of Environmental History (ASEH) convention which was held at the Empress Hotel here last week. The poster features wonderful old drawings of historic big trees with descriptions of social attitude changes about nature over the centuries. It features a prominent section entitled "Weyerhaeuser: On the Wrong Side of Environmental History." (during the ASEH convention, we addressed the executive board and explained how their society was being discredited by their association with Weyerhaeuser) (ASEH is closely affiliated with the 'Forest History Society, which is sponsored by Weyerhaeuser. Additionally, two Weyerhaeuser's sit on the FHS board.) The front desk person led me to the auditorium where I chose a seat right next to the microphone, and then she went off to find out about the poster. Unfortunately she came back with Dan Waite, Weyerhaeuser's Corporate Security manager who immediately confiscated the poster and searched my briefcase right there in front of the whole crowd.
The meeting commenced at exactly 9:00 with about 500 people in attendance. Weyerhaeuser Chairman, President and Chief Executive Officer, Steven R. Rogel (2003 salary,- $1,148,077 + bonus $1,500,000) thanked everyone for attending, and before starting into the meeting he pointed out the window, where about 20 Rainforest Action Network protesters could be seen setting up in the distance on the other side of the duck-pond. He said that Weyerhaeuser welcomed alternative views about their logging practices, but he warned the delegates "to please respect the demonstrators, but do not engage in any dialogue with them."
He introduced the executive board members, including Rt. Hon. Don Mazankowski who once served as Canada's Minister of Finance, and then went into his speech, the theme being "The Journey Ahead" for the worlds largest logging company. "Werhowser" as he pronounced it in his deep resonant baritone, "would become stronger by expanding [their] global footprint in the southern hemisphere" where they can "grow trees in half the rotation time of the north." The company will "operate in all regions with greater speed and efficiency." Weyerhaeuser, where the 'Future is Growing,' plants more than 120,000,000 trees a year, and only logs about 5% of its landbase annually. He said that their logging does not harm the environment, and suggested that on just 5% of the entire USA forested landbase, 'intensive management' a la Weyerhaeuser could supply all US forest product consumption. He said that "Weyerhaeuser's forest practices work to improve the health of our salmon runs." Sounding eerily like Gordon Campbell's letter to the New York Times about there being "more old-growth in British Columbia today than when logging in the province began," Rogel stated that "in Canada 91% of the original forest cover thrives to this day."
He droned on about Weyerhaeuser's great commitment to the environment, saying that the company not longer clearcuts forests, but rather, was seriously into 'variable retention' logging, which provides seed trees and protects wildlife values." He stated that 92% of Weyerhaeuser's operations are certified to ISO 14001, as well as SFI in the USA, while in Canada, they go by the CSA standard. In response to one shareholders proposal that the company should seek FSC certification, Rogel responded saying that, "the company believes that FSC [is] redundant and would require that the company to incur substantial administrative costs without adding any incremental value." He referred to an "IBM Business Consulting report which found that " all three of the major certification systems in North America (CSA, FSC, and SFI) were, in their view, environmentally equivalent." Although most of Weyerhaeuser's USA operations avoid old growth cutting, and "[their] mills long ago retooled or converted to the smaller logs produced by second- and third-growth forests, the exception is British Columbia, where the provincial government licenses old-growth forests for harvest." He described cosy relations with all stakeholders, including their British Columbia 'partners,' the Sierra Club of BC, Greenpeace, and Forest Ethics, while flashing their names up on the powerpoint screen. (apparently RAN's American anti-Weyerhaeuser campaign has got them struck from the BC ENGO/Weyerhaeuser partnership) (much appreciated by me) The shareholders went along with Rogels recommendation and massively voted down the proposal, which advocated an end to any further old-growth logging, citing the leadership of Boise Cascade, and their Canadian peers, Domtar, Tembec and Alpac.
Shareholders were offered 2 minutes for questions and comments, "provided that they were of interest to the meeting," so I got to the mike and described the Weyerhaeuser assault on Vancouver Island's primeval forests, referring to East Creek, the 85th of 91 Vancouver Island watersheds to face the axe. I described my efforts to stamp the Weyerhaeuser brand name onto the extinction of the Vancouver Island marmot. I suggested that such effort should ultimately decrease the value of Weyerhaeuser stock, and why don't the shareholders invest their money somewhere ethical instead of the world's largest logging company. I complained that Weyerhaeuser was despised on Vancouver Island for exporting 1,000,000 cubic metres of raw-logs annually to the USA. Before I could finish, Rogel slammed down the gavel and the mike went dead. Ken Wu, another proxy representing one share, then described Weyerhaeuser's Walbran massacre and the efforts of anti-Weyerhaeuser blockades and protests in the valley, followed by Pat Rasmussen who graphically described Weyerhaeuser's depradations in Washington State, and in the temperate rainforests of the North and South American west coast, from Alaska to Tierra Del Fuego. While she was speaking, I held up large aerial photographs of Weyerhaeuser's Vancouver Island VR clearcutting, which leaves on average a 20% retention of single trees spaced every 100 metres, and with reserves located in road-bights so it's easier to salvage when it blows down the next year. For this I was sternly warned to desist by Mr. Waite. I had to weigh the advantages of getting dragged out of the meeting, vs. the effect that could have on future environmentalist representations at the meetings.
The last audience member to speak thanked Weyerhaeuser profusely for their generous support for the 'War on Terror' by giving leave to 150 of their employees to join the Iraq Attack, which garnered a thunderous applause. As the meeting wound down, I schmoozed around with Weyerhaeuser's environmental PR reps, and was able to present Steve Rogel with a copy of our film, "Beyond the Cutting Edge, A Trip to the Primaeval Forests of East Creek" which I recently screened around Euope, and which prominently features Weyerhaeuser's ongoing invasion, occupation and massacre of our island's once magnificent rainforests.
As such in the world is what giant American corporate interests do beyond their borders.
Not being all that patriotic myself, nevertheless, it was a relief to get back across the border into Canada, even without the expected body-cavity search and chemical bath.
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