South LA Shareholder Activists Confront Oil Company’s Leaders over Billions in Dodged Taxes

By Esperanza Arrizon
Good Jobs LA

imagePeople from struggling South LA communities took the message of the 99% to Occidental Petroleum’s annual shareholder meeting on Friday. Shareholder activists confronted company executives and directors over Occidental Petroleum’s billions in dodged taxes. Afterwards, they joined supporters for a protest outside the meeting location.

“We made our voices heard and delivered our message that tax-dodging corporations, like Occidental Petroleum, need to pay their fair share,” said Debra Taylor Padgett, a local resident who attended the company’s shareholder meeting. “I’m proud of what we did today and I’m proud to be part of the 99%.”

From 2008 to 2011, Occidental Petroleum – the country’s fourth largest oil company – made $15.8 billion in profits by extracting valuable oil resources from communities across California and the U.S. Occidental Petroleum executives and directors have rewarded themselves with millions – paying CEO Stephen Chazen $31.7 million in 2011 and members of its Board of Directors up to $1 million a year for part-time work – but the company is leaving the communities it operates in behind.

Occidental Petroleum paid only a 15.2% average federal tax rate and received $3.1 billion in tax subsidies over the past four years. At the same time, the company spends millions opposing efforts to compensate California for oil extraction, leaving California as the only state that does not tax oil production.

When profitable corporations like Occidental Petroleum fail to pay their fair share in taxes, communities cannot afford teachers, firefighters, police officers, health care and other essential public services.

“These corporations have to pay taxes! I had to pay property taxes even after my house was taken away and it just isn’t fair that companies like Occidental Petroleum get away with tax dodging, especially when so many communities that are struggling,” said Silvia Sanchez, a Compton resident who attended the protest.