Another Good Reason To Support The Little Guy

Keeping in mind that by “little guy” I actually mean small brewers and not larger brewers who need their smallness to be defined by a trade organization… but this news out of Newfoundland is just weird:

…the bosses at Labatt Breweries in St. John’s apparently thought it was a good idea to instruct their employees to train workers who would replace them in the event of a strike. The employees refused and walked out, and are currently on a wildcat strike. The mind reels, and then reels some more upon news that a judge ordered the workers to stop interfering in Labatt’s daily business because, he said, they would do the company irreparable harm. Apparently, in a globalized knowledge economy, being replaced on the job does not qualify as doing irreparable harm to a worker.

We have to also be mindful, of course, that being a good brewer does not automatically entitle you to be considered as a good employer. You will recall how in 2011, Rogue of Oregon was the subject of “a devastating article about how Rogue Brewery treats its workers” to quote Jeff. Like any good consumer, that was the last time I bought any of their beer but, to be honest, anti-union tactics is something of a norm. But asking local workers to train their own foreign import replacements? Notice that a Canadian bank has been accused of the same thing this week. Which has led to an apology from now sweaty browed president and CEO Gord Nixon as clients are voting with their feet and withdrawing their deposits.

We clearly have a problem with any law that allows this. And any community that condones it. Will Canadians walk on Labatt, too? I hope so. Most likely in Newfoundland where the policy hits home most closely and people have an aversion to being led. They are not called the masterless men for nothing. One would hope these things would matter more generally, too. I do appreciate when Ethan points out that, hey, it’s capitalism but one needs to recall that capitalism is about trade and, frankly, turns on the principle “buyer beware.” As in be wary. Be aware. Know who and what you are dealing with. And appreciate, as Nixon now knows, that it is the consumer who defines what is appropriate within the construct of capitalism, not the law or business.

One thought on “Another Good Reason To Support The Little Guy”

  1. [Original comments…]

    Alan – April 13, 2013 10:19 PM
    Noticed that the can of Keith’s Cascade I tried this evening had the “union made” tag line. Maybe they’ll swap that for “foreign worker program made” if this all works out for InBevAmBevLabCo or whatever the faceless thing is called now.

    Ed – April 14, 2013 5:08 AM
    I added Rogue to my boycott list but I don’t think I’ve ever drunk Labatts. If I do see any I’ll make the point of frowning disapprovingly at it before drinking something else though.

    Bailey – April 14, 2013 8:46 AM
    ‘And appreciate, as Nixon now knows, that it is the consumer who defines what is appropriate within the construct of capitalism, not it is not the law or business.’

    Yes, exactly. It doesn’t operate in a moral vacuum.

    Alan – April 14, 2013 11:32 AM
    And yet… I still can’t edit a sentence. Try:

    “‘And appreciate, as Nixon now knows, that it is the consumer who defines what is appropriate within the construct of capitalism, not the law or business.”

    Ethan – April 14, 2013 1:06 PM
    “Hey, capitalism” isn’t some Libertarian battle cry. CBW is employee owned and we intend to stay that way, and I have a long, long history of extremely pro-labor thinking. For what it’s worth.

    Alan – April 14, 2013 1:13 PM
    I hear you but just pointing out that it is complex and not defined by the existence of businesses but by the existence of markets.

    Jeff Alworth – April 15, 2013 12:35 AM
    And it’s worth noting that the hated bigs support union jobs. At St Louis over the weekend, and I verified that AB works with unions. Yup. St Louis is badly in need of good jobs, too.

    Ethan – April 15, 2013 1:09 AM
    @jeff- support, or tolerate? I suppose ABI might indeed suffer their union employees; Yeungling found a way to break their union and are off my list therefore.

    Jeff Alworth – April 15, 2013 8:56 PM
    Ethan, you should actually *talk* to AB. It’s not beyond reasoning that a company providing decent jobs in its hometown is proud of it. The casual way in which we dismiss the motives of big breweries, data-free, has got to stop. Hate Bud and Natty Lite, fair enough. But it doesn’t indict them on all crimes.

    Alan – April 15, 2013 10:24 PM
    Data-free is surely a bit ripe, no? Isn’t the more interesting thing how we do or do not bring assumptions and prejudices around these sorts of elements of the brewing business to the discussion as much as we accept marketing spin to or do not buy it?

    Me, I used Ethan’s line to compare it to another context which is likely a bit unfair. See, to do the dirty on Newfoundlanders is unlike mistreating we mid- and western continentals. Labatt risks losing much by taking this step. It’s more than just labour and management. It’s a cultural error.

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