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The Corporate Partner Conundrum

February 16th, 2010 · 6 Comments

Gustavo Arellano of the OC Weekly has a pretty good blog post up about the Orange County Hispanic Bar Association and its decision to have an anniversary dinner at the Disney Grand Californian Hotel, which is the site of a current dispute over health benefits for its workers. Arellano asks, “Why is the OC Hispanic Bar Association Kissing Disney’s Ass?” Well, I have a feeling that the answer to this question is similar to what LULAC expressed to me about the soft drink and fast food industry in the previous blog post. All of these Latino issue organizations have corporate sponsors and partners, and they are in some sort of balancing act whereby they have to weigh the good that they can do from taking the corporate money and having an event or funding programs vs. relying on the community and smaller donors.

I think that if more Latinos in the community realized that their civil rights organizations were to heavily tied to the corporate entities that produce sugar and junk food and perpetuate racial stereotypes like Disney has had a history of doing (of course, let’s not forget Disney’s labor history in regards to its hotel workers, which this blog has covered before back in the Summer of 2008), then there would be some sort of outrage about who exactly these associations serve. I have met one of the previous presidents of the Orange County Hispanic Bar Association, and I thought that she was approachable and even receptive to criticism and questions, similar to how I felt about Brent Wilkes of LULAC willingness to answer my own questions. Perhaps people in the community need to start asking the questions that Gustavo and I have been raising on the blogs. These organizations aren’t going to sever ties or consider other sponsors without more people questioning their relationships. Currently, the Walt Disney Company is listed as a sponsor of the Orange County Hispanic Bar Association.

Disney wants its hotel workers who earn around $11 per hour to enroll in a health plan with costly premiums. Currently, 2,150 hotel workers are in a plan where they only pay co-payments for doctor’s visits and prescriptions. Plainly, these hotel workers are in an income bracket where they will have to make a choice between rent and health care or perhaps forgo coverage altogether. It is my hope that the Orange County Hispanic Bar Association reconsiders celebrating at the Disney Grand Californian Hotel in a display of solidarity with the workers who are fighting to keep more affordable health benefits. To add to the irony, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis is going to be the keynote speaker at this event. I wonder if Secretary Solis would bestow the “corporate citizen award” upon Disney given its latest labor disputes. Hopefully, Secretary Solis and her people are keeping an eye on the Disney labor dispute and will consider the message that being a keynote speaker at this hotel may send to the workers who have been striking.

To read more about the Disney labor disputes, please check out this link.

Tags: Civil Rights · community organizing and activism · health care · Labor Relations · LULAC · racism · Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis

6 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Cockroach People // Feb 17, 2010 at 5:12 am

    We had this problem in Chicago a few years ago with MALDEF and the United States Hispanic Leadership Institute who were both sponsored by Wal-Mart which was then, locked in a bitter fight with grass-roots comunity groups and unions. We (the community) made a big stink about it. They kept the money but USHLI pledged not to accept more wal-mart money in the future. MALDEF would not budge. It’s kind of hard for them to budge when they have Martin Montes (Associate General Counsel
    Wal-Mart Stores, Inc.) on their Board of Directors!

    I am fine with corporate sponsorship, but organizations should always ask whether such sponsorship is a) too much of the general budget and therefore stifles autonomy b) comes from a controversial source that can clearly be shown to be screwing the community c) is involved in some high-profile dispute especially a union strike!. The list isn’t exhaustive but it has helped my organization in the past. It’s a case by case decision for the most part, except that we do not take money from drug or alcohol companies as a rule.

  • 2 HispanicPundit // Feb 17, 2010 at 8:15 am

    Two important points missing in your post:

    1. Disneyland is not going to pay its workers more than the productivity they bring in.

    2. The labor market and its competitive forces means that the workers at Disneyland are getting about equal to what their productivity demands.

    Do you disagree with any of the two propositions above? It’s basic economics, but its missing from your post completely.

    Assuming for the moment you agree, then the next question is why do you think forcing Disneyland to pay for healthcare will help the employees? Healthcare is going to cost Disneyland more money, meaning (based on propositions above) they will have to lay off some of the workers or in the future hire less of them. This isn’t controversial. This is as basic as stating that when the price of something goes up, people buy less of it.

    The second problem is that you force Disneyland to pay its workers in healthcare benefits instead of wages. A problem that all economists find troubling. Ezra Klein has blogged alot about this.

    In other words, Disneyland covering more of their healthcare is NOT a good thing. It would mean less workers (in a time when jobs are scarce as it is), a forced pay cut and for many employees, especially the young, a waste in resources (they dont need healthcare as much as they need a wage increase).

    The primary foundation behind ObamaCare is the excise tax – a tax meant to reverse precisely these trends. Liberals have been (rightly, IMHO) defending its benefits for a while now. One wonders if you have even tried to delve into the details of ObamaCare at all – because this post shows you clearly don’t understand it.

  • 3 webmaster // Feb 17, 2010 at 9:33 am

    “The primary foundation behind ObamaCare is the excise tax – a tax meant to reverse precisely these trends. Liberals have been (rightly, IMHO) defending its benefits for a while now. One wonders if you have even tried to delve into the details of ObamaCare at all – because this post shows you clearly don’t understand it.”

    This post is not about ObamaCare per se. I knew that you were going to tell me that Disney would hire fewer people and that it is better that Disney hires possibly more people while giving meager to no benefits. You always say this when it comes to giving the people at the lower end of the food chain health care or a decent wage.

    Last year, the Disney CEO received a direct compensation of $20.8 million, which was a decrease from the previous year. Why is this man’s compensation at such an outrageous level when his company’s hotel workers are tossed bones?

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703521904574614691414671178.html

    Is this sort of model of executive compensation sustainable or even ethical in the current environment?

  • 4 HispanicPundit // Feb 17, 2010 at 5:05 pm

    Of course this post isn’t about ObamaCare, else everybody would see your confusion. In one part of the post you would have to argue in favor of the excise tax, a tax that is specifically designed to decrease employer provided health insurance in order to increase wages for the employees. But then in another part of the post you would have to argue for an increase in employer provided health insurance in order to decrease wages for the employees. It would be rather confusing, wouldn’t it?

    And of course I always bring it up, don’t you bring up logical errors in posts you read of others? Especially if they keep making the same fundamental mistake, over and over again. For the record, I encourage you to point out logical errors with any of my posts when you find them.

    Now, as if to get yourself out of one economical quandary, you step right into another one. You write:

    Last year, the Disney CEO received a direct compensation of $20.8 million, which was a decrease from the previous year. Why is this man’s compensation at such an outrageous level when his company’s hotel workers are tossed bones?

    The implicit message here is just as confusing. Please explain to me how the CEO’s wages are related to the wages it sets for its bottom end hotel workers? Spell it out for me Webmaster. Are you implying that its zero sum here – that the more wages it pays its CEO directly takes from the wages it sets for its workers? Are you implying that the two face the same competitive forces? I’m truly baffled by your statement and would like to understand how you come to that conclusion.

    Here is a quick primer on the economics of wages.

  • 5 IE // Feb 17, 2010 at 9:34 pm

    hey hispanic pundit!

    Simply put, I’ve earned well over six figures the last 5 years, and you know what, I like to enjoy the benefits of my hard work; however, I don’t think that I, or anyone for that matter, should do it on the backs of less fortunate folks.

    Companies like Walmart, Disney, and other major corporations that don’t like to pay health cost to low level workers do it because they can get away with it. Just because the market for those folks is infinite doesn’t mean they need to exploit them. Maybe you think it does? Wait from your points of view, you definitely think it does. Yeah, sure enlighten us with your economics 101 chapter summaries.

    The Disney and Walmarts of the world would rather pay two or three minimum wage employees, then have one employee work more than 40 hours a week; thus, they don’t incur the cost of healthcare coverage. Yeah, I know all about operation costs and the need to beat earnings.

    Did you see that 80% of people polled (Democrats, Republicans, and Independents) found the Supreme Court ruling on Corporate contributions appalling?

    Yeah, I came at you from a place of anger, but it’s only because the way you come across on your comments makes you seem like a “pinche know it all.”

  • 6 HispanicPundit // Feb 17, 2010 at 10:26 pm

    I guess I’ll have to wait for the next commenter to respond to what I wrote. :-)

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