by William Smith
On the Thursday morning before Labor Day weekend, I got ready for work as usual at 5:30 am with WNEP news on the television. And, as usual, weatherman Joe Snedeker was doing one of his regular bits where he shows the Pottsville weather camera and wonders aloud what Dick Yuengling, billionaire owner of the Yuengling brewery, is doing. On this day, however, Snedeker, the longtime television personality and college professor who tries to come off as an everyman, asked how we thought Yuengling would spend his Labor Day.
I thought back to 2007, when it was widely reported that after petitioning for a decertification election (a vote to disband the union), Yuengling called his employees together and illegally told them to “read between the lines.” If the workers did not ditch their union, he implied he would shut down operations in Pennsylvania and move to a so called “right-to-work” state.
The threat worked as intended, and the union disbanded.
Yuengling also has a long history of environmental violations. In failing to pre-treat the wastewater from their brewing process, they polluted the Schuylkill River and threatened the drinking water quality for over a million Pennsylvanians.
Knowing Yuengling and his family accumulated their wealth by selling beer to generations of Pennsylvania workers, I’m used to getting frustrated when Snedeker gushes over Dick Yuengling. But to see him do a Labor Day bit praising and promoting a union-busting billionaire was just too much. So, I emailed Snedeker…
This morning Joe Snedeker said on air that he wondered what Dick Yuengling will be doing on Labor Day.
Is Joe really that clueless? Does he not remember how Dick Yuengling busted the union in 2007? He threatened to close the Pottsville brewery and move all brewing operations to a non-union state.
So, I imagine that Dick Yuengling, the anti-worker union-busting billionaire, will be counting his money that he has made by exploiting working people.
Please stop promoting this man and his swill every morning as working people are getting ready to leave for work. It is insulting to all of us.
Maybe you can get a Lion Brewery cam for Labor Day. They are a union shop and they make some greats brews.
It was nice to tell Snedeker what I thought and to get this off my chest. But then came his reply, which basically said lighten up and don’t be offended:
Hello William and thanks for your comments. Our company has worked out some interaction with the Yuengling Brewery. What is deeply involved in that relationship is beyond my knowledge and pay grade. From our weather office we are fortunate to have cameras from many locations to show the weather more efficiently! For you to take my HAVING SOME FUN COMMENTS on the Pottsville camera and turn it into a political and employee related topic is simply unfair. If you look too deeply into any enterprise (your car, your furniture, your computer, cell phone, your employer etc. etc.) you will likely find something associated with it that is contradictory to your way of life! I’m just guy trying to inject some fun, entertainment and information into my daily forecast work—nothing more! As a former Public School Teacher Union Member—Have a great Labor Day Weekend!
Also, the computer you’re using right now was likely made through non-union labor….Just sayin!
Thanks again for your correspondence,
This is more or less the same defense he used in 2005 after he made a sexist comment on-air, telling a woman colleague who took off work the day before to care for her sick child, that “if he were her boss, he would have her choose between being a mother or having a career.” “It was just something taken out of context and blown out of proportion,” Snedeker said at the time, declining further comment.
I used to buy a case of Yuengling a week. Once I learned of Yuengling’s anti-worker views and actions I stopped buying and drinking Yuengling products. I have since started drinking union-made beer including Lionshead and Stegmaier products made locally in Wilkes-Barre.
If you feel as I do and would like to see WNEP have respect for working class people and drop its praise for an anti-worker, anti-union billionaire, you can let them know by calling Talkback 16: 1-800-228-9637.
William Smith, a lifelong resident of the coal region, lives in Schuylkill County with his wife and their two children. He works full-time as a freight handler and part-time as a sheet rocker.
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