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ANTI-CORPORATE PROTECTION MARKET


Elaine Bernard

One

of the more entertaining pieces of email to cross my screen in the last few

weeks, was a cover letter with a "Guide to the Seattle Meltdown: A

Compendium of Activists at the WTO Ministerial." The letter noted that the

"perceived success" of the groups in disrupting the WTO meetings in

Seattle would be a boon to anti-corporate protesters. In particular, it would

heighten their visibility and "substantially enhance fundraising

capability," deepen already existing coalitions and contribute to the

broadening of the coalitions "to include non-traditional allies" and

with a Presidential election campaign and key trade votes coming up, provide

activists with "golden opportunities to seek wider recognition and gain

additional strength." Finally, these "high profile battles will allow

activists to further institutionalize and consolidate their gains, increase

coordination, gain greater media attention and expand their targeting of

business interests."

Hard

to disagree with this. The punch line, however, is who sent out the letter and

guide: one Gardner Peckham, of "Black, Kelly, Scruggs & Healy, A Burson

Marsteller Company." Burson Marsteller is one of the big Washington

corporate advertising, image, and public relations firms. You got to love the

business community – every action, every criticism, every turn of events is

just another business opportunity.

Below

is letter in full. It’s fascinating to see who is listed and who is not in the

guide. For example, I’m grossly insulted that they missed out ZNet, one of the

more effective and up-to-date activists website. Similarly, I’m sure that many

in the labor movement will be insulted that while they chose to highlight the

Steelworkers, Autoworkers, Machinists, Teamsters, UNITE, the Sheetmetal workers,

the AFL-CIO and what surely must be a first, the historically very conservative

International Confederation of Free Trade Unions, they insultingly left off, the

small but effective UE (United Electrical Workers) who have long been involved

in North/South solidarity, and especially work with unionists in Mexico.

On

the other hand, they did list the "French Peasants Confederation," in

fact the only non-US labor organization (other than the ICFTU). The French

Peasants Confederation, they explain, is lead by Jose Bove "a French goat

farmer who tore up a McDonald’s restaurant with a tractor to protest US trade

sanctions on Rocquefort cheese."

Much

to my surprise, they list the "Humane Society" as another group to

watch out for. These rebels plan to "collect 2001 signatures by the end of

2001 calling on all governments to stop the WTO from interfering with national

environmental and health and safety laws." I now know I made the right

decision when I decided to give the local cat/dog shelter a donation this year.

The

guide tends not to have many of the communities of faith on their list – the

notable exception being "Christian Aid," an organization of British

and Irish churches "engaged in relief work in more than 60 countries to

improve lives and tackle the causes of poverty and injustice." However,

USAS, the United Students Against Sweatshops, one of the newest organizations,

will be pleased to see that they made the list – along with well-known,

campaigning organizations such as Public Citizen,’s Global Trade Watch, 50 Years

is Enough, Friends of the Earth, National Labor Committee, Greenpeace, Global

Exchange and the Rainforest Network

"What

is less understood – but perhaps more significant – is the potential ability

of the emerging coalition of these groups to seriously impact broader,

longer-term corporate interests."

 

———–

Black,

Kelly, Scruggs & Healy A Burson Marsteller Company 1801 K Street, N.W.,Suite

901-L,Washington, D.C. 20006-1201 (202) 530-0500, (202) 530-4800

January

14, 2000

Dear

[Corporate Client]:

Enclosed

is our "Guide to the Seattle Meltdown: A Compendium of Activists at the WTO

Ministerial". The "Guide" is a comprehensive listing of the

activist groups which protested against the WTO Ministerial in Seattle this past

November. It lists the groups and their leaders we were able to identify,

descriptions of their ethos (largely in their own words), as well as web site

addresses and other useful information. We wanted to share this

"Guide" with you, not so much as a retrospective on the past, but as

an alarming window on the future.

The

spectacle created in Seattle during the WTO Ministerial meeting by a diverse

collection of activists may have significant short-term ramifications for the

business community. The perceived success of these groups in disrupting Seattle

and in contributing to the failure of the WTO meeting will be a dramatic boon to

them in several ways. First, their victory and heightened visibility will lead

to substantially enhanced fundraising capability. Second, the smell of victory

will lead to a deepening of already existing coalitions and will strengthen the

recognition that broadening such coalitions to include non-traditional allies

exponentially increases effectiveness. Third, the Presidential election campaign

and several likely trade votes in Congress this year will give activists golden

opportunities to seek wider recognition and gain additional strength. These high

profile battles will allow activists to further institutionalize and consolidate

their gains, increase coordination, gamier greater media attention and expand

their targeting of business interests.

What

is less understood — but perhaps more significant — is the potential ability

of the emerging coalition of these groups to seriously impact broader,

longer-term corporate interests. Seattle was not an anomaly and the consistent

anti-corporate message of virtually all the groups who participated there in

November is not a temporary phenomenon. Many have traditionally highlighted

alleged corporate misconduct in mass mail fund raising campaigns. More recently,

some environmental groups have resorted to targeting corporations for

contributions in return for suspending their public ire.

At

Black, Kelly, Scruggs & Healey, we have developed a capability direction of

these groups, as well as to defend clients against their attacks. I hope you

find the enclosed "Guide" useful and if you have any questions, please

call me at: (202)530-4805.

Sincerely,

Gardner

G. Peckham Managing Director