A co-worker came up to me the other day stating she and her husband got a letter from Metcalfe with a series of excuses against a boycott. She was trying to argue against a boycott because poor Metcalfe was tied in historically to contracts with Johnsonville and the charities that would be hurt.
What I find so interesting here is the very same folks who are so committed to “not buying” from Wal-Mart have drunk from the “boycott kool aid ” that we see daily in the press. It sees a boycott as collective punishment and in some ways it is, but the other side of the coin is it is very much about consumers having control over which goods they purchase.
Does that not form the basis of a free market style economy? Consumers making free, rational decisions about which goods to purchase. Is it rational for a union member to purchase goods from Georgia-Pacific which is owned by the Koch brothers who have invested heavily in destroying unions. Is it rational for a worker or teacher to purchase Johnsonville Brats which invested in Scott Walker’s assault on the workers of Wisconsin. Is it rational for a taxpayer to bank at M&I when they took their TARP repayment to the taxpayers and gave it to Walker instead. To argue against a boycott is a total act of irrationality.
Events like Bratfest are an advertising frenzy for those corporations involved. There is no separation between their “good works” and the advertising blitz we see on TV. If Metcalfe truly desired he could get out of contracts with Johnsonville Brats, but since he still want to hang on to that relationship, he will have to pay the price in the market place.
Metcalfe could choose to sponsor the event itself, and choose non Johnsonville products at the event. If, Metcalfe continues to want to stay on a sinking ship, he will have to pay the price. How many union members man the booths, what about the historical commitment to them. Metcalfe and his sponsors also need to seriously consider if this is the kind of public relations they want. He may even think about permitting a union shop at his stores.
But what about the charities? Very good question. Historical charities like the Boys and Girls Club need to seriously consider whose side they are on. They need to think about the consequences of participating in Bratfest. Many union shops have days set aside for volunteering and donating in which Boys and Girls Club is a recepitent.
For this commitment labor should do its part. It should collectively support those charities who pull out of Bratfest with a donation blitz from its members. Maybe a Boycott Johnsonville, Save a Charity campaign.