Friday, July 18, 2008

A worker's paradise?

A second theme around the MillerCoors decision were claims that higher taxes might help create a good business environment because they pay for things that businesses like. Paul Soglin, without reference to authority, suggests that a good business environment is defined by the Green Party platform. The blogger known as capper suggests that the decision must have had something to do with Chicago's "high quality mass transit system, that includes a rail component .... "

The latter is wishful thinking. MillerCoors is locating in downtown Chicago and, although they said nothing about it, might be concerned about how easy it is to get in and out of downtown Chicago - no matter how one does it. Rail or not, Milwaukee would have won on that factor. As for O'Hare (which it did mention), Chicago has better air service than Milwaukee because it is the third largest city in American and located smack dab on the middle of the country.

Soglin has less than a third of a point. It is certainly possible that a skilled workforce - which may well be related to public education - is important for business. It may also be the case that infrastructure matters. This is distinct, however, from satisfaction of the demands of WEAC and public employee unions. I rather doubt that greater progressivity of the tax code, a high minimum wage, tougher than national environmental regulations(Wisconsin's DNR is not so popular with business people), government spending on childcare, etc., are likely to be positive factors. While quality of life is important, I don't know what many people equate that with the general level of state spending.

22 comments:

James said...

O'Hare was the transportation reason. MC is national subsidiary of 2 international companies (SAB Miller, London and Molson Coors, Canada). In Chicago, the airport fly nonstop to pretty much anywhere in the nation, and flights to Canada and London are easy and nonstop.

Also consider it's only 300 employees at the start. Those employees are more likely higher ranking and higher compensated as they are in the corporate HQ. These employees usually don't take the trains in.

It's funny watching those in Milwaukee act like little kids. Richy has a train set, I want one too. NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW NOW ..........

Anonymous said...

No brainer you folks in Wisconsin passed a law recently because you don't want any type of recognition of same sex relationships......Cook county has a domestic partners registry I hope fewer companies locate to Wisconsin now that your state has deemed it fit to discriminate against same sex benefits; Wisconsin deserves to reap the loss of economy due to this.

Anonymous said...

Coors got badly burned by a gay boycott of its product; Mary Cheney turned that around.....MillerCoors knows better than to offend gays by locating in Homophobic Wisconsin....gays are a big market for the beer industry

Anonymous said...

Until she left Coors, Cheney was a powerful advocate for advancing gay rights through corporate America -- the "market" point of view in the "market vs. movement" debate. Market-oriented gays believe they may have more power as consumers than as voters, and think that once they become coveted targets of corporate America, mass acceptance will follow.
Thus some gay leaders are thrilled by the way companies like American Airlines, Subaru and Miller Brewing have aggressively courted their community. But left-wing activists charge that they're being exploited and co-opted. "We're a movement, not a market," has become the battle cry of the other side, and the fight may be the bloodiest battleground within the gay rights movement today

At the heart of that controversy stands Coors Brewing Co., one of the most hated corporations in gay America since the 1970s. Once synonymous with right-wing causes, it was accused of spying on its workers and discriminating against a variety of minorities, including gays, blacks and Latinos. The most infamous charge was that the brewery forced employees to take polygraph tests about their sexual orientation.

Labor unions organized a boycott in 1974, and California gay rights pioneers Harvey Milk and Morris Knight called on gays to join the boycott, which has raged for more than 20 years.

Coors spokesman David Taylor says the company aggressively worked to change both policies and image in the late '70s and early '80s, when Coors began expanding and developing a national marketing strategy. The company added sexual orientation to its non-discrimination policy in the '80s and offered domestic partnership benefits in 1995. "They have become one of the most gay-friendly companies in the country," HRC spokesman David Smith said Wednesday.

The emergence of gays in the Coors family is widely believed to have helped moderate its views. Dallas Coors, grandson of company founder Adolph Coors, was a co-founder of HRC, though he did not work for his family's brewing company or the foundation. The real breakthrough came with the next generation, in the person of Scott Coors, son of Bill Coors, who retired as chairman of the brewery earlier this year and remains chairman of the holding company. Scott Coors has been openly gay in the Denver community for years, with no public resistance from the family. He serves as Coors' director of product damage prevention, and is active in the gay employee group.

Coors has also been battling Miller and Anheuser-Busch for the lucrative gay beer market. Cheney's job was to rebuild gay acceptance and gradually increase market share in Coors' target markets. That task took her all over the country, but Coors has arguably made its most ambitious pitch for gay support in its backyard, in Denver (Coors' brewery and headquarters in Golden sit on the outskirts of the metropolitan area).

During Cheney's tenure, the company pumped hundreds of thousands of dollars into local and state gay groups, from Equality Colorado to the Colorado AIDS Project. It has contributed $54,000 to Denver Pridefest over the past three years, currently the "presenting sponsor," meaning its bottle-cap logo appears on every related sign, banner and T-shirt strewn about the region for months.

"She opened a lot of doors at Coors for us," says Mike Smith, executive director of the gay community center that organizes Denver's Pridefest. He said a three-year agreement she negotiated will "substantially increase" its support and make it the largest corporate contributor to the organization. (Full disclosure: I sit on the Pridefest steering committee, but was uninvolved in the negotiations.)

Coors spokesman Taylor says the company has contributed about $500,000 to gay organizations over the past decade, most generously in Denver, Atlanta, Miami and Boston.

But the stigma lives on. Coors has been rebuffed by the gay community in markets such as San Francisco, according to sources familiar with the company's marketing plan. The Gay and Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation faced an avalanche of abuse within the gay community when it accepted a $110,000 donation -- under Cheney's tenure -- in 1998. The L.A. Coors Boycott Committee threatened to award them a "Coors Whore Award."

The conflict erupted even more bitterly this February, when the Denver HRC chapter hit Cheney up for a $5,000 donation from Coors as a corporate sponsor for its annual fundraising dinner. Cheney quickly came through with the approval, but the problems surfaced on the receiving end. HRC's national chapter got wind of the donation in February, and called the locals to inform them the money must be returned. An acrimonious struggle erupted, with the national office lined up against Coors and the local chapter.

The national office won. HRC was already under attack within the gay community for its association with the gay Millennium March, and couldn't afford any more controversial moves, explained Joe Barrows, who negotiated on behalf of the locals.

Cheney's friends say she was infuriated by the response, and particularly angry at HRC executive director Elizabeth Birch. HRC agreed to reexamine the issue this spring, and on July 7, Birch flew to Colorado for a private meeting with Coors. Barrows and David Smith said the parties have moved closer to reaching an understanding, but are not ready to make an announcement yet. One member of the board of governors predicted Coors will eventually make a large corporate donation to HRC, which will be embraced in a high-profile press conference, applauding Coors as a leading company in acceptance of gays in its workforce.

But HRC was hardly the toughest opponent Cheney has faced. The crux of her job has been cracking open markets antagonistic to a Coors-gay alliance on both sides. Coors targets specific markets and then sends in a team of specialists in key niches -- such as blacks, Hispanics and gays -- to do outreach to those communities.

Cheney would then fly out to the market to win over both distributors and gays, explained one source who was familiar with her work. She would frequently find herself in a small town in the South, for instance, trying to convince a local good-ol'-boy distributor how great it would be to set up promotions at the local gay bar and spend some time hanging out with the gay managers and bartenders there. The next morning she might spend with a hostile gay organization, trying to convince them to accept what many still perceived as blood money.

Frequently, the distributors -- many franchise operations independent of Coors -- would try to brush Cheney off, saying they'd already tried, and the gay market was resistant to Coors. "Mary's trick is to say, 'Well I think times have changed,' and then kind of hold their hand to reintroduce themselves," her colleague said. "And then she goes into the community and starts identifying groups where Coors money can have an impact."

Much of Cheney's work involved outreach to various gay subcultures, from drag queens to cowboys on the gay rodeo circuit. She spent a great deal of time trying to learn about the leather phenomenon, because it has a tight national network of aficionados who maintain close links through the Internet as well as annual events like the International Mr. Leather competition.

Cheney spent months researching the leather phenomenon, attending events some would find distasteful and carting home stacks of books from the library and bookstores. "My partner wants me to get rid of all these books," a friend quoted her as saying. "I'm so tired of looking at hairy men in leather!"

But the research paid off. Cheney teamed up with a powerful ally to spearhead the effort: International Mr. Leather 1999. Bruce Chopnik lives in Denver and took the crown just about the time Cheney's efforts were getting underway. They flew to San Francisco to meet with leaders of the boycott, and to Chicago to powwow with the owners of the International Mr. Leather competition, which Chopnik said draws 20,000 to 25,000 participants a year to its convention.
"It caused a lot of political unrest on my side," but Cheney was constantly by his side to support and advise him, he said. "Whenever I got slammed with a question, Mary was just a phone call away."

Chopnik said Coors sponsored several leather events around the country, and was considering a donation to the National Leather Archive Museum in Chicago when Cheney left. When he stepped down from his title this May, Coors footed the bill for his farewell roast in Chicago.

He said the leather community was extremely resistant to Coors in the beginning, but now describes them as "highly supportive." He concurred with the assessment of other gay leaders that the impact had rippled out far beyond the leather community.

"In the long run, she's opened the doors to a lot of people's minds," he said. "We worked together to dispose of the mystique about Coors in the gay community," he said. Chopnik said he was also approached by representatives of Procter and Gamble, to ascertain how Cheney made such inroads so quickly.

Anonymous said...

FYI a gay boycott of Wisconsin Dairy products is in the works. Vermont and California are viable alternatives to Wisconsin Dairy products. Both States are tolerant of gays, Wisconsin will reap the economic benefits of its intolerance.

Anonymous said...

You know it.... many of the press articles talk about MillerCoors deciding to pick a neutral city for its headquarters.....Neutral hmmmm....oh MillerCoors offers domestic partner benefits which Wisconsin won't allow....if they headquarter in Wisconsin it will offend their gay consumers so they picked a neutral city in a county (Cook) that has a domestic partner registry

Anonymous said...

Ironic on MillerCoors website an announcement is made from Milwaukee that they will be headquartering in Chicago. Sounds like a a fair deal for a FAIR WISCONSIN

joe stalin said...

Capper is an juvenile delinquent and Soglin is a post modern hippy burnout.
I think the real way to get more business to Wisconsin is to tax higher. What we should do is make businesses give more moeny to government. We should also force people to ride choo choo's.
It's the only way to save us.

Rick Esenberg said...

oh MillerCoors offers domestic partner benefits which Wisconsin won't allow

By way of accuracy, Wisconsin law absolutely allows private employers to offer domestic partner benefits. I think that any argument that the marriage amendment precludes that is a stone loser.

Anonymous said...

300 jobs have been precluded from Wisconsin. Fair Wisconsin has dropped a stone on Wisconsin’s foot. To this day Coors is not sold in many bars in San Francisco in spite of MillerCoors policy on diversity so it was a no brainer for them to pick Chicago

James said...

Talk about off topic. MillerCoors didn't say anything about the gay marriage amendment in their statements about the headquarters relocation. If it was such a key issue, then why not go to California, Massachusett, Vermont, or New York where gay marriage has been affirmed by the current laws of the those states.

Someone certainly has a big chip on his/her shoulder.

Anonymous said...

your state your loss of jobs are chips on the floor

James said...

Well, if it makes you feel better to fictionalize the reasons MillerCoors didn't locate in Wisconsin or Colorado, then you're welcome to it. After all it's a free country, at least until you install a totalitarianism of thought so everyone has to think the way you want them to.

Anonymous said...

Wow, what happend here?

Anonymous said...

truth is painful

Anonymous said...

So professor you state "By way of accuracy, Wisconsin law absolutely allows private employers to offer domestic partner benefits. I think that any argument that the marriage amendment precludes that is a stone loser."

Neither Marquette U nor the University Of Wi have domestic partner benefits , thats a good because you don't want to attract gay professors.....better to limit views in the world of academia....Rick how easy is it to be an openly gay professor at MU?

Anonymous said...

Although a provision authorizing domestic partner benefits wasn’t included in last year’s final state budget, campus efforts to move the issue forward continue unabated.

A committee of faculty and staff continues to meet with legislative leadership, individual members of the legislature, UW System and Fair Wisconsin in hopes of making fresh progress.

Among the approaches being considered are standalone legislation or possible action through the administrative rule process.

Provost Patrick Farrell and Chancellor John Wiley have consistently argued that not being able to offer benefits puts UW–Madison at a competitive disadvantage with peer institutions. UW–Madison is the only Big Ten university, and one of only two universities among statutorily set peer research institutions, that does not offer domestic partner benefits.

Anonymous said...

If the Democrats take over the Assembly the issue of domestic partner benefits for UW employees will be settled quickly.

And the idiotic anti-gay costitutional amendment will be gone within 20 years as the teens and twenty-somethings age. The prejudice goes away as the older generations die off.

Rick Esenberg said...

Anon 11:14

My point is that the law does not prohibit MU from offering those benefits. Having said that, it may be unlikely that a Roman Catholic institution would choose to provide benefits to same sex couples. That certainly could get in the way of recruiting certain people, but I suspect that those who run it might claim that HR practices consistent with mission, i.e., the promotion of Roman Catholic values, is more important than being less able to attract hires from what is a fairly small group.

As for how easy it is to be an openly gay professor, it would be presumptious of me to say. You wouldn't have domestic partner benefits, but I'd be surprised if you ran into any other form of flack. Still, I'm not really in a position to know.

Brian said...

To the hilarious guy posting anonymously, it's very easy to be openly gay and teach at Marquette.

Just ask Nancy Snow, one of the most celebrated liberals on campus.

Try not to make an ass of yourself commenting on Marquette's faculty unless you investigate a little.

Brian said...

Another quick comment:

In terms of dying off (and, based on stuff I hear out of Oregon, you guys must be accelerating this process), when older generations die will we finally get rid of all the other inventions of the Baby Boom generation, like the abject failure of the Great Society? Or is that one of those "hope" and "change" things that's a little more of a permanent "change" ala a permanent revolution?

Anonymous said...

Thou shalt not lie with mankind, as with womankind: it is abomination