Gordon Edgar  @  ChelseaGreen

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Open Letter to the Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board

Posted on Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011 at 11:19 am by Gordon Edgar

Wisconsin Milk Marketing Board, Inc.
8418 Excelsior Drive
Madison, Wisconsin 53717

cc: Governor Walker, Senator Fitzgerald, House Speaker Fitzgerald

James Robson, President
Stan Woodworth, Vice President

WMMB,

The current Wisconsin budget crisis has caught the attention of many people outside of Wisconsin. The proposed budget, as it stands right now, seems to many of us as an unprecedented and undeserved attack on one of the most basic rights of organized labor: the right to collectively bargain. Customers at our store have been asking about what they can do. Some have even brought up their willingness and desire to boycott Wisconsin products if this current budget passes.

You know me. You know I have been a long-time supporter of Wisconsin cheese and that we carry a lot of it, especially for a California supermarket. I have no wish to stop carrying any of your numerous cheeses that we have on our shelves. (It varies of course, but right now we have about 40 different cheeses from about 15 Wisconsin cheesemakers.) I love Wisconsin cheese.

However, if this current budget passes it will make Wisconsin a bad word among many people who shop and who work in our store. Since you are in the marketing business, you can well understand that the kind of result a political decision like this can have in many of the cities that sell a lot of specialty cheese. You know that it doesn’t take much of a decline in sales for a perishable food to lose its place on the shelves; that’s the nature of the business. It doesn’t even require an organized boycott, just the change in consumer perception from Wisconsin being a “friendly state of cheese lovers” to “that mean-spirited state that hates unions and teachers”. Because I care about Wisconsin dairy farmers on a personal and professional basis, I do not want to see that happen.

For the good of Wisconsin cheesemakers I personally ask that you put what pressure you can bear on the legislature to not pass a budget that strips organized labor of their rights. This is an issue that goes beyond Democrat or Republican and beyond state lines. Taking a budget crisis (that many see as manufactured for this purpose) as an excuse to end the right to collectively bargain is wrong.

This is not a threat. I am not speaking for my workplace because, as a cooperative, my workplace is a democracy and does not have an official position on this issue. What I am saying is that the Wisconsin state budget has ceased to be a local issue. What happens next may very well affect every business in the state. Since Wisconsin’s most visible business is cheese, I think you owe it to your members to take a stand against this budget.

Thank you,
Gordon Edgar
Cheese Buyer

Read the original post on Gordonzola’s blog.

cheesemonger Gordon Edgar is the author of Cheesemonger: A Life on the Wedge.
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