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ExxonMobil Urged to Make no
Long-Term Agreements in Occupied Iraq

By Nick Mottern, Executive Director, ConsumersforPeace.org

On May 28, 2008, I attended ExxonMobil’s annual shareholders meeting in Dallas, Texas, and called upon ExxonMobil’s board of directors to instruct the company’s management to make no long-term agreements with the occupied government of Iraq.

I was carrying forward a message of from Hassan Juma’a Awad, President of the Iraqi Federation of Oil Unions, prepared especially for ExxonMobil and for the shareholders of Chevron, meeting the same day in San Francisco.  

The message, which was made available through the work of U.S. Labor Against the War and can be found at www.consumersforpeace.org, says, among other things:

“We demand that the US government, oil companies and others immediately cease lobbying for the oil law which would fracture the country and hand control over our oil to multinational companies like ExxonMobil and Chevron.  We demand that all oil companies be prevented from entering into any long-term agreement concerning oil while Iraq remains occupied.”

Since the shareholders meeting, Hassan Juma’a Awad has reported that the Iraqi government has transferred eight union activists out of the oil refineries in the south as part of an “anti-union policy.”  He urges, through U.S. Labor Against the War, that the transfers be appealed to the Iraqi Embassy in Washington, D.C. , using ambassador@iraqiembassy.us or using fax number (202) 299-9833.

The ExxonMobil meeting, in the vast Myerson Symphony Center, was attended by about 1,500.   Shareholder representatives and shareholders spoke to the audience about  shareholder resolutions and company policies.  I was the sole shareholder to speak about Iraq.  I was surprised to receive applause at the end of my statement, and two shareholders thanked me as we left the hall. (I bought one share of ExxonMobil stock so that I could attend the meeting.)

In presenting my statement, I related it to a shareholders resolution backed by members of the Rockefeller family seeking to separate the positions of CEO and chair of the board of directors, with the intent of making the board more independent and open to concerns about global warming and alternative energy research.  That resolution, along with the others that were proposed, all opposed by management and the board of directors, failed to get a majority of votes.

Here is my statement:  
My name is Nick Mottern, I’m director of a group called Consumers for Peace.  I rise to support resolution #5.  This is a resolution that I think is very important to this company, and I’m pleased to see that some of the board has returned to the hall. I want to give an example of why I support this resolution.

In March of this year, General David Petraeus held a press conference in Baghdad in which he said that he had called the heads of major energy companies urging them to invest in occupied Iraq.

I believe that the separation of the post of CEO and chair offers greater accountability for  momentous decisions such as the one being faced by ExxonMobil with respect to whether it will enter into long-term agreements with the occupied Iraqi government.  The Iraqi oil workers union is vehemently opposed not only to the occupation but to all major oil companies entering into any long-term agreements with the Iraqi government.

This is an extremely volatile situation.  We know that the war has enriched ExxonMobil, but at the same time this war can change and expand in a way that is even more frightening than what it is now.  

We ask that ExxonMobil board of directors particularly instruct the management to enter into no long-term agreements with the occupied Iraqi government.

I appreciate the opportunity to speak, and I would have to say that the oil workers union has made a particular statement for this day and for this shareholders meeting urging the end of the occupation, urging ExxonMobil to act in its political strength and capacity to urge an end to the occupation and basically to stay out of Iraq until the occupation ends.

Thank you very much.

(An audio recording of the entire three hours of the ExxonMobil shareholders meeting can be heard on the company’s website.)