On a cold, clear Monday afternoon, a dozen bicyclists hung signs around their necks while touring three Bank of America branches around town. With placards reading "the blood is on your hands," the protesters hoped to raise awareness about a remote link between the banking giant and animal testing.
The testing in question is being performed by Huntingdon Life Sciences--a New Jersey and UK-based laboratory that subcontracts with medical researchers and cosmetic companies for animal testing. Three years ago, Huntingdon became public enemy number one with animal rights activists, after a PETA member revealed hours of damning film footage she had gathered during two years of undercover work. Activists claim that Huntingdon kills 500 animals (dogs, cats, monkeys, rats) per day in their testing.
"B of A has the power to say, 'we don't want animal testing,'" explained one protester. Bank of America runs an estimated $150 billion annually through a mutual fund investment firm, the Little Rock, Arkansas-based Stephens, Inc., which, in turn, is the primary investor in Huntingdon.
Like the rallying cries in the '80s for universities to divest from any company doing business in South Africa, local activists have begun targeting banks and their investments as a means to bleed businesses they disagree with--like animal testing labs or logging firms.
Before departing on their city-wide, two-wheeled tour, a bike cop rolled up alongside the activists, to remind them to obey all traffic rules. PHIL BUSSE
Since October, a stalwart group of employees at the SE Division Nature's has tried to shore up support for a labor union. Their demands have been simple enough--they want the perceived "corporate culture" of polo shirt uniforms and disinterested managers to relax. But on Friday, their vote to unionize with the Industrial Workers of the World (IWW) failed by nearly 2 to 1.
Representatives have issued assurances that the union won't disappear. In fact, they plan to form what is called a "minority union"--a group that is not legally recognized, but allows members to informally act together. PB