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News stories come and go but some have more ‘legs’ than others. 

While wars and politics and the economy can always be counted on to stay above the fold, individual news stories often make an initial splash, dominate the conversation for a very short while, and then fade. It would seem that there is no connection between the size of a story when it first breaks and its staying power.

That said, just because a story, person, or company slides down in the feed, we can’t allow ourselves to stop following it. 

In this week’s episode of Dial P for Procurement, Kelly Barner looks back at the people who played large roles in three past episodes to find out the answer to one common question: where are they now?

Story Number 1: Allen Media Group vs. McDonald’s

Byron Allen is the CEO and owner of Allen Media Group (AMG). Allen is Black, which means that AMG is eligible to be certified as a minority owned business. One of AMG’s most important media properties is The Weather Channel – a place that you would think a company like McDonald’s would want to advertise.  

McDonald’s has a $1.6 Billion annual advertising budget, and as of 2022, they were spending less than one third of one percent of it with Black-owned firms. The company has pledged to increase advertising spend with Black-owned companies from 2% to 5% by 2024. 

When AMG reached out to McDonald’s about becoming a marketing partner, they were assigned to a secondary, less lucrative “African American tier” even though they have general market appeal. A federal civil rights lawsuit is ongoing.

In May of 2023, Allen sued McDonald’s again, this time in state court and for fraud. Allen is arguing that McDonald’s broke its commitment to spend more ad dollars on Black-owned media. He is seeking $100 Million in damages for violating anti-fraud law against making false promises.

Takeaway: While companies often make public commitments to do the right thing, that creates a liability. If they don’t follow through for any reason, it is a huge problem… far worse than not making the commitment in the first place.

Story Number 2: Fatal San Antonio Human Trafficking 

On June 27th 2022, an abandoned tractor trainer was found near Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. A local worker heard cries of distress and opened the door, only to find evidence of the deadliest example of migrant smuggling in recorded history. 

48 people were found deceased on the scene. Of the 16 people taken to local hospitals, 5 later passed away from their condition. All of the migrants in the truck were stricken with heat exhaustion and heat stroke, and those who died passed of heat stress.  

Six men have been charged in connection with the case, most notably Homero Zamorano Jr., the driver, and Christian Martinez, who aided him – but not the migrants of course.

Christian Martinez pled guilty to several counts in September of 2023. He won’t be sentenced until January 2024. In exchange for his guilty plea, capital punishment seems to have been taken off the table, as he now faces a maximum penalty of life in prison.

I can’t find any updates about Homero Zamorano Jr., but it isn’t crazy to think that Martinez might have to testify against him as part of his plea deal. We’ll have to wait and see.

Human smuggling continues to be a huge issue, but if only the gruesome discovery is covered in the news, and not the consequences, it is hard to think we can make any progress towards a solution. 

Story Number 3: FedEx Ground v. Spencer Patton

This time last year, we were all wondering if Black Friday was going to be Purple, because of FedEx’s network of subcontractors going on strike.

The strike didn’t happen – in large part because of a FedEx lawsuit against Route Consultant, owned by Spencer Patton. He was the leader of the movement and therefore the target of FedEx’s ire. That lawsuit sent a chill through the veins of the other subcontractors.

Then – as all stories do – this one went quiet. 

Until March 10th 2023, when all charges against Route Consultant were dismissed. FedEx Ground had until April 11th to appeal the ruling – and they didn’t, so Patton and the other subcontractors were in the clear. 

Patton made news again this summer when he commented publicly about driver wages against the backdrop of the labor negotiations between UPS and the Teamsters. 

Patton Logistics still hosted their Contractor Expo in Las Vegas this year, although with two thirds of the attendance they saw the year before. But Patton remains the nationwide expert in FedEx ground subcontracting, and many of the things he advocated for – including less Sunday deliveries and more efficient fuel cost management – have made a difference for other subcontractors nationwide.

It took courage to stand, nearly alone, against the full might of the FedEx legal team, and it didn’t come without cost to him and his business. But it did move the conversation forward and call attention to an important part of making supply chains work.

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