The New York Times ran a long, front-page news article about a 12-week-long strike at a Caterpillar plant at Joliet, Ill. The headline is "At Caterpillar, Pressing Labor While Business Booms." The gist of the story is this:
in what has become a test case in American labor relations, Caterpillar is trying to pioneer new territory, seeking steep concessions from its workers even when business is booming. Despite earning a record $4.9 billion profit last year and projecting even better results for 2012, the company is insisting on a six-year wage freeze and a pension freeze for most of the 780 production workers at its factory here.
No mention in the article of the company's ties to President Obama. As reported here back in August 2011:
If one had to name a company that was one of President Obama's favorites, Caterpillar would have to be high on the list. On February 6, 2009, Mr. Obama named the company's chairman and CEO, Jim Owens, to his Economic Recovery Advisory Board. On February 12, 2009, Mr. Obama flew with Mr. Owens aboard Air Force One to Caterpillar's headquarters to tout the stimulus bill. On November 24, 2009, Mr. Owens and his wife were invited guests at Mr. Obama's first state dinner at the White House, in honor of Prime Minister Singh of India. On February 7, 2011, Mr. Obama praised the company, which is based in the president's home state of Illinois, in a speech to the Chamber of Commerce.
Mr. Owens stepped down in November 2010.
Via Twitter I asked New York Times reporter Steven Greenhouse why he hadn't mentioned President Obama. If it were a Koch Industries company trying to freeze worker pay amid soaring profits, you can bet that the Koch brothers' political activity would have been mentioned. He responded, "Mr. Stoll, I invite you to explain to me how that is relevant to my story about a bargaining dispute at one factory. Best, Steve Greenhouse."
It seems to me that the fact that this is a company that less than two years ago President Obama was mentioning by name in a speech as "proving that America can compete" makes it relevant, given that one way it is competing is by holding the line on employee compensation. Because a lot of people are interested in President Obama's economic policy (more people than are interested in "a bargaining dispute at one factory"), including President Obama in the article might make more people interested in reading the article.
Can any other FutureOfCapitalism community members help explain to Mr. Greenhouse how it might be relevant?