Wednesday, August 18, 2010

APPLE JUICE AND LABOR ISSUES: HARD CORE

This one sounds like it's apples and apples. But first, let's figure out relationships: in 2007, the company Cadbury Schweppes spun off it's American beverage unit, creating the company Dr Pepper Snapple. Dr Pepper Snapple makes Mott's Apple Juice at its plant in Williamson, New York. Workers at the Mott's plant have been on strike since May.

What's this about? According to a NY Times article, Dr Pepper Snapple wants to cut wages and benefits, despite earning record profits last year. According to Mott's, they want to get their worker's pay and benefits more in line with "local and industry standards," claiming that average pay and benefits are less in the area. The company motive seems to be to further increase profits, based on the "fiduciary responsibility to operate in the best interests of all its constituents, recognizing that a profitable business attracts investment, generates jobs, and builds communities."

Oh what a steaming heap of bullshit! The translation here, in case it's not too obvious, is that corporate greed is the name of the game - "hey, the financial industry got away with it, why not us?" Contrary to Dr Pepper Snapple's statements, the best way to attract investment, generate jobs and build community is to demonstrate that a company can pay and treat it workers well and respectfully and still be profitable. Touting the fact that their workers are well paid and the company is profitable could help lift the "local and industry standards" that are likely less than a living wage.

Wouldn't it be nice to see more companies talking about corporate responsibility in terms of social, economic and environmental sustainability instead of more profits for shareholders (and I bet Dr Pepper Snapple execs aren't taking a pay cut)?

Mott's workers aren't the only ones being set up for a loss; area apple growers are about to start harvesting, and lower production at the Mott's plant - which is still operating with replacement workers but at about 1/3 capacity - can have a devastating impact on growers.

There are some good companies around, but I would say Dr Pepper Snapple isn't on that list.

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

I love that social responsibility,human compassion, and a business ethic still has a champion and proponent.

Anonymous said...

In fact, according to the union (United Food & Commercial Workers) Dr. Pepper/Snapple paid CEO Larry Young $6.5 million in 2009. Also, the nytimes article says DPS lost $312 million in 2008 but, according to UFCW, that didn't stop DPS from raising pay of the top 3 execs 3 years in a row.
Stuart

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