The Not-So-Woke Corporations

In its never-ending effort to use culture war issues for political advantage, the American Right has a new favorite target: woke corporations. This is the derogatory term conservatives have seized on to attack those portions of Big Business that have decided to show concern about issues such as racism, sexism and inequality.

This is one of those debates with a lot of empty posturing on both sides. Corporatist Republicans are pretending to be fire-breathing critics of the Fortune 500. Chief executives who are still preoccupied with profit above all are pretending to be social reformers.

Since behavior counts more than public statements, let’s look at the track record of large corporations when it comes to the issue at the center of wokeness: their treatment of women and people of color. One has only to look at some of the cases in the news over the past couple of months to get an indication of what really goes on in the business world.

Recently, for example, Google agreed to pay $118 million to settle litigation that accused it of systematically underpaying its female employees. The lawsuit, originally filed in 2017, alleged that the company put women into lower career tracks than their male counterparts, resulting in lower salaries and bonuses. Once a judge granted class action status to the plaintiffs—something that some similar suits against tech companies failed to achieve–it was almost inevitable that the company was going to have to make a substantial payout.

This case is not the only instance of discrimination allegations against Google. In 2021 a branch of the U.S. Labor Department found evidence of compensation and hiring discrimination against female and Asian applicants for engineering positions. Google had to pay out $2.5 million in back pay and set aside $1.25 million for pay-equity adjustments. The company is also defending itself against a lawsuit accusing it of racial discrimination.

In another major discrimination case, Sterling Jewelers recently agreed to pay out $175 million to settle a long-running lawsuit accusing it of underpaying and underpromoting tens of thousands of women at its stores. There were also accusations of sexual harassment at the company.

Not long ago, a federal court approved a consent decree entered into by the gaming giant Activision Blizzard to resolve an action brought by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in response to reports of sexual harassment, pregnancy discrimination and related retaliation at the company. The company is paying out $18 million.

Activision is being acquired by Microsoft, which has had its own discrimination issues. In May, the same Labor Department agency that fined Google required Microsoft subsidiary LinkedIn to provide $1.8 million in back pay and interest to a group of nearly 700 female employees said to have been the victims of gender-based pay discrimination.

As I documented in a 2019 report, almost all large corporations have been caught up in discrimination cases. While many of the cases are resolved through confidential settlements, I was able to show that 189 Fortune 500 companies had paid a total of $1.9 billion to resolve private litigation or cases brought by federal government agencies since 2000.

There is no indication that the policies that gave rise to those cases have come to an end. In fact, the main problem with woke corporations seems to be that they are not woke enough.

The Phony Feud Between Republicans and Big Business

When Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis struck back at Disney for declining to support his culture war demagoguery, some observers were quick to see this as evidence of a supposed rift between the Republican Party and big business.

The Washington Post ran a front-page story declaring that “growing numbers of state and federal Republican leaders today seem eager to clash with the country’s biggest corporations.” The article portrayed the Disney dispute and a few other examples, such as criticism of Delta Air Lines for opposing restrictive voting law changes in Georgia, as “cracks in the once-sturdy relationship between companies and a business-friendly GOP.”

A similar article in the New York Times was headlined “Rebuke of Disney is Sign of a Shift by Republicans Away from Big Business.”

Reading these pieces gave me a strong feeling of déjà vu. I was reminded of the commentaries that were published about Donald Trump during his first presidential race and after his election in 2016. Much was made of his supposed attacks on big banks, military contractors and pharmaceutical companies. This continued when Trump went after Amazon.com for its supposed sweetheart deal with the postal service.

It eventually became clear that all of purported conflict amounted to nothing of substance. Trump never followed through on any actions that would negatively impact large corporations. In fact, he pursued a thoroughly pro-business agenda of lavish corporate tax cuts and a relentless attack on regulation. The latter made life easier for payday lenders, brazen polluters and employers engaged in wage theft. While some major corporations expressed misgivings about Trump’s style or his rhetoric on other issues, they were thrilled to watch him fulfill their most ardent policy desires.

Trump’s evil genius was his ability to give his working-class supporters the impression he was promoting their interests while actually catering to the corporate elite.

I have no doubt that DeSantis and other Republicans now attacking big business are engaged in the same kind of political theater. The only difference is that, while Trump pretended to be an economic populist, today’s rising GOP stars find it more advantageous to spar with corporations over social issues. It is true that DeSantis got Disney’s special taxing district rescinded, but he will probably get it reinstated once he no longer needs the company as a political foil.

The GOP spats with corporations are made easier by the fact that much of big business these days is engaged in its own posturing. Under the rubric of corporate social responsibility or ESG, many large companies are speaking out on social and environmental issues, often depicting themselves as the vanguard of change. They may do this on their own initiative, or, as in the case of Disney, are pressured by employees.

Trump-style Republicans and politically correct corporations are both engaged in a kind of kabuki dance. DeSantis et al. are pretending to be moral crusaders when they simply pursuing their political ambitions. Large companies are pretending to be moral crusaders of another sort when they are simply burnishing their commercial image.

Reporters looking for serious corporate critics are not going to find them anywhere in the Republican Party—nor among most Democrats. The mark of a serious challenger to big business is someone willing to support efforts to curb corporate power. That means strengthening worker organizing rights, consumer protection laws, environmental oversight, antitrust laws and the like—not concocting phony disputes with companies to advance a misguided culture war agenda.

Corporate Consequences

The coming weeks will determine how big a price Donald Trump and his Republican enablers will pay for fabricating claims about election fraud and instigating the deadly attack on the Capitol.

Yet it is just as important for the country to determine what the consequences should be for the large corporations that directly or indirectly aided Trump’s rise to power.

At the moment, Corporate America is frantically trying to distance itself from Trump and his confederates. Trump himself has become a pariah. Social media platforms have banished him. His banks have severed ties. The PGA Championship will no longer be held at his golf course in New Jersey. The Wall Street Journal urged him to resign. The National Association of Manufacturers called for the use of the 25th Amendment to oust him from office.

Corporations are also turning on Congressional Republicans who perpetuated Trump’s lies about election fraud and sought to overturn Biden’s victory. Companies such as Marriott, Dow Chemical, and Morgan Stanley announced they would halt campaign contributions to the Republicans who objected to certifying the electoral college results as the Capitol was still reeling from the insurrection.

It is fine for big business to come out now in favor of democracy, but that does not completely free it of responsibility for the series of events that led to necessity to fill the Capitol with armed troops to protect it against another assault from U.S. citizens.

That culpability comes in various forms. Although he is hardly a major player, MyPillow CEO Mike Lindell, who continues to support Trump, deserves some commercial form of impeachment. It’s too late to do anything about the recently deceased Sheldon Adelson, who used his casino fortune to prop up Trump and other retrograde Republicans, but there are other major contributors who should be held to account.

Yet there are many other corporations that may not have explicitly supported Trumpism but which were bought off with tax cuts and regulatory rollbacks. This was part of one of the other big lies of the Trump Administration: that it was pursuing populist policies aimed at helping working people.

Trump cynically perpetuated this falsehood while collaborating with the likes of Mitch McConnell to advance the usual pro-business Republican agenda. There were a few variances in areas such as trade, but the new positions were less pro-labor than they were simply xenophobic and incoherent. Whatever benefits workers may have enjoyed under Trump were far outweighed by the harm caused by the weakening of workplace safety enforcement, continued anti-union animus and the like. Trump’s incompetent response to the pandemic and the insufficient relief efforts have only compounded the problem.

Soon the country will be finished with Trump and attention will turn to the priorities of the new Administration. Biden included numerous progressives in his transition team and has chosen some decent people to serve in his cabinet, yet his closest advisors include individuals with strong corporate ties. Although he moved a bit to the left during the campaign, Biden himself is firmly centrist and far from anti-business.

Having distanced itself from Trump, big business may feel that it is entitled to push its agenda with the new administration. Nothing is further from the truth.

If anything, corporate interests, having received undue benefits during the Trump years, should now take a back seat to truly worker-friendly and other progressive policies. Corporate America should, in effect, pay a kind of reparations for its failure to stand up to Trumpism. A Biden Administration that is allowed to provide real help to struggling Americans may do more than anything else to help reunify the country.

Accountability for Trump’s Corporate Enablers

NAM CEO Jay Timmons presents award to Ivanka Trump in February 2020.

Republican members of Congress who abetted the plot to overturn the election will go down in infamy along with the disgraced 45th President himself. That applies both to the dead enders who still repeat the lies and those Senators and Representatives who abandoned the shameful crusade only after a mob whipped up by Trump invaded the Capitol.

There is another group of enablers who should be called to account: Corporate America. Sure, big business is now frantically trying to distance itself from Trump, with the National Association of Manufacturers going so far as to urge that Vice President Pence and the Cabinet invoke the 25th Amendment. Amid the chaos on Wednesday, the Business Roundtable called on Trump to put an end to the violence. In late November, a group of more than 160 chief executives urged the Trump Administration to accept Biden’s victory and cooperate in the transition process.

Yet, as with Congressional Republicans, these gestures came after four years of enabling Trump’s anti-democratic practices. While Trump moved steadily along the path to authoritarianism, large companies allowed themselves to be bought off with tax giveaways and regulatory rollbacks. There were occasional confrontations with corporations such as Carrier and General Motors over layoffs and offshoring, but these were bogus, reality-TV-type confrontations that amounted to nothing.

More significant were the policies adopted by a purportedly populist President that weakened labor unions, rolled back OSHA enforcement, curtailed fair labor standards and installed employer-friendly Secretaries of Labor.

Corporate America has also benefited from Trump’s retrograde environmental policies, especially the efforts to roll back limits on greenhouse gas emissions. On their way out the door, officials such as Andrew Wheeler of the EPA are trying to limit the options the Biden Administration will have to restore pollution controls.

Specific corporations have also been the beneficiaries of Trump’s policies. Military contractors such as Lockheed Martin have profited from the Administration’s use of arms sales to countries such as Saudi Arabia as a key element of its foreign policy. Telecommunications equipment companies such as Cisco benefitted from Trump’s campaign against its Chinese competitor Huawei.

Even companies chosen by Trump for his faux confrontations have profited from him or have assisted his accumulation of power. News corporations such as CNN gave Trump’s early rallies undue coverage and helped propel his political rise. Social media corporations for the most part have allowed Trump to disseminate hate speech and dangerous falsehoods.

Some prominent corporate figures have directly supported Trump, both with endorsements and substantial campaign contributions. These include Stephen Schwarzman of The Blackstone Group, Kelcy Warren of the pipeline company Energy Transfer Partners, and casino magnate Sheldon Adelson.

Other corporations and trade associations have sucked up to Trump and his family over the past four years. Last February, NAM, the organization now promoting the 25th Amendment, gave its Alexander Hamilton Award to Ivanka Trump.

On the whole, big business has offered little more than mild rebukes to Trump’s dangerous tendencies while reaping substantial benefits. Like Congressional Republicans, Corporate America needs to be held to account.

Barr Opts for Prisoner Executions over Corporate Prosecutions

The priorities of the Barr Justice Department came to light with the revelation that it is rushing to schedule a series of federal prisoner executions before the Trump Administration comes to an end in January. DOJ is exhibiting a lot less urgency about meting out penalties for corporate defendants.

Four years ago at this time, the Obama Justice Department used its final weeks to negotiate an extraordinary wave of settlements with big business, collecting more than $30 billion in fines and settlements. During a period of ten days there were four ten-figure settlements: Deutsche Bank’s $7.2 billion toxic securities case; Credit Suisse’s $5.3 billion case in the same category; Volkswagen’s $4.3 billion case relating to emissions fraud; and Takata’s $1 billion case relating to defective airbag inflators.

The rush to settle was based at least in part on concern that the incoming Trump Administration would downplay the prosecution of corporate offenses as part of the assault on government regulation. That concern turned out to be valid, though not to the extent many observers expected. Prosecutions and regulatory enforcement have declined in some areas but have not disappeared.

Since this year’s election results became clear, there have been no billion-dollar resolutions announced by DOJ. During this time the only significant announcement was one involving a $135 million settlement of a foreign bribery case against Vitol, the secretive European commodity trading company.

While Barr is not yet using the lame duck period to resolve cases, DOJ was showing some prosecutorial vigor in a few areas even before the election. One of these is the enforcement of the Foreign Corrupt Practices Act. Even though Trump himself has reportedly sought to strike down the law, claiming it is unfair to U.S. companies, the Justice Department has gone on bringing cases.

The Vitol action is one of five FCPA settlements DOJ has announced during the past few months. These follow about 20 others since Trump took office. There are a few things to note about these cases. First, the corporate defendant, while paying a penalty, was almost always offered a way to avoid a guilty plea, usually through a deferred prosecution or non-prosecution agreement.

The second significant feature of Trump’s FCPA cases is that most of them were brought against corporations headquartered outside the United States. Trump’s criticism of the law may have prompted DOJ to focus more on foreign culprits, perhaps using FCPA as a surreptitious trade weapon. When DOJ pursued a case against the very American company Walmart, the department was accused of going easy on the giant retailer in the settlement negotiations.

Occasionally, even Barr’s DOJ has had to get tough with a U.S. company in an FCPA case. That happened in October, when Goldman Sachs had to pay more than $2 billion to resolve its culpability in the notorious 1Malaysia Development Bhd. (1MDB) case, which also involved prosecutors from other countries such as the United Kingdom and Singapore.

Assuming he does not get fired for refusing to go along with Trump’s election fraud delusion, Barr still has some time to end his tenure in a blaze of corporate settlements. It would be a better legacy than a brazen misuse of the death penalty by a lame duck attorney general.

Limiting Corporate Influence

Among the many challenges the Biden Administration will have to confront after Trump ends his temper tantrum is deciding on the posture it wants to take toward big business. There will be a battle for the soul of the new president as corporate Democrats vie with progressives to influence policy in areas such as regulation and antitrust.

The initial signs are encouraging. The Biden transition just released a list of some 500 individuals who will be staffing the Agency Review Teams charged with preparing the way for a transfer of power in all parts of the executive branch.

I went through the list of affiliations and found only about 20 for large corporations. The vast majority of the people are from academia, state government, law firms, non-profits, unions, think tanks and foundations.  It is likely that some of the law firms are there to represent specific corporate interests, but the numerous representatives from progressive public interest, environmental and labor groups should serve as an effective counterweight.

In the Labor Department list there are no law firms or corporations; in their place are representatives from five different unions along with people from the National Employment Law Project and other progressive groups.

What is particularly significant is the near absence of people affiliated with Wall Street banks. The Defense Department list has someone from JPMorgan Chase; Homeland Security has a representative from Capital One; and the International Development group includes someone from U.S. Bank. There is no one from Bank of America, Goldman Sachs, Citigroup, Wells Fargo or Morgan Stanley.

The Treasury Department group is led by someone from Keybank, which is based in Cleveland and ranks about 29th among U.S. banks. Fortunately, the Treasury group also includes representatives from places such as the Center for American Progress, the American Economic Liberties Project and the AFL-CIO.

Other balancing acts include the list for the Environmental Protection Agency, which includes a representative from Dell Technologies but also from Earthjustice (the lead person) and The Sierra Club.

Some of the corporations show up in surprising places. Walt Disney is represented on the Intelligence Community list. The cosmetics firm Estee Lauder has someone on the State Department list. Someone from Airbnb is in the National Security Council group.

Looking at current corporate villains, the one that stands out is Amazon.com. It shows up on two lists—the one for the State Department and the one for the Office of Management and Budget.

Lyft and Airbnb are also on the OMB list, along with some academics, a consultant, a state official and someone from Meow Wolf, a Santa Fe-based non-profit that produces immersive art experiences.

Given that OMB oversees regulatory policy, the absence of public interest, union and environmental people raises a concern. Otherwise, it appears that the Biden team is limiting corporate influence in the emerging administration. Let’s hope it stays that way.

The Corporate Marauder Undermining the Postal Service

Donald Trump got elected in part by selling the idea that his business experience would enable him to do a great job of running the government. We see how that turned out. And now we have another veteran of the private sector wreaking havoc on the United States Postal Service.

Louis DeJoy was named postmaster general after spending four decades in the trucking and logistics business, becoming wealthy enough in the process to join the ranks of Republican megadonors. He made his name and his fortune through the creation of a company called New Breed Logistics, which grew to prominence by securing contracts with large corporations such as Boeing as well as the Postal Service.

In 2014 he sold New Breed to the Fortune 500 company XPO Logistics, staying on to run the New Breed operation and serve as a director of XPO until 2018. If we want to get a sense of the management approach DeJoy is bringing to the USPS, we can look at the track record of New Breed and XPO.

As shown in Violation Tracker, XPO and its subsidiaries have racked up a total of $65 million in fines and settlements in more than 70 misconduct cases over the past two decades. Nearly two-thirds of that total comes from wage theft. Last year XPO paid $16.5 million to resolve allegations that for years it misclassified drivers as independent contractors to deny them overtime pay and paid breaks.

This year XPO paid another $5.5 million for wage and hour violations relating to workers at its Last Mile operations. Altogether, XPO and its subsidiaries have had to pay out some $40 million in wage theft lawsuits. Another $3.5 million settlement in a misclassification case brought against an XPO unit and the retailer Macy’s is awaiting final court approval.

Another problem area for XPO is employment discrimination. Two of the cases in this category relate to New Breed Logistics. In 2015 a federal appeals court upheld a $1.5 million jury verdict in a sexual harassment and retaliation case originally filed by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in 2010. Also in 2015, New Breed had to pay $90,000 to resolve allegations by the Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs that it engaged in discriminatory practices at a facility in Texas.

XPO has also been called out for workplace safety and health deficiencies. It has been cited more than 20 times by OSHA for serious, willful and repeated violations.

Along with the mistreatment of workers, the rap sheet of XPO and its businesses includes allegations of cheating the federal government. This comes by way of Emery Worldwide, an air freight company that became part of Con-Way Inc., which was purchased by XPO in 2015.

In 2006 Emery paid $10 million to settle a False Claims Act lawsuit brought by the Justice Department concerning the submission of inflated bills to the Postal Service for the handling of Priority Mail at mail processing facilities during a multi-year contract.

Leave it to the Trump Administration to choose someone to head the Postal Service who was associated with a company linked to fraud committed against that same agency.

XPO continues to do business with the Postal Service, and DeJoy has continued to receive income from the company through leasing agreements at buildings he owns. Even if XPO had a spotless record, DeJoy’s ongoing dealings with it create a glaring conflict of interest.

DeJoy claims to be retreating, at least through the election, from the measures that threatened to create chaos for mail-in ballots.  Nonetheless, his corporate marauder’s approach to the management of the Postal Service still poses a grave threat to the future of a vital American institution.

Bloomberg’s Wage Theft Problem

Michael Bloomberg was pummeled during the Democratic debate in Las Vegas over the treatment of women at his media and data company. Yet that is not the only blemish on the employment record of Bloomberg L.P. The company also has a serious problem with wage theft.

Violation Tracker lists a total of $70 million in penalties paid by Bloomberg for wage and hour violations, putting it in 32nd place among large corporations. Yet many of the companies higher on the list – such as Walmart, FedEx, and United Parcel Service – employ far more people than the roughly 20,000 at Bloomberg.

The bulk of Bloomberg’s penalty total comes from a 2018 collective action lawsuit in which it agreed to pay $54.5 million to resolve allegations that the company violated the federal Fair Labor Standards Act and state law in New York and California by failing to pay overtime to employees responsible for assisting customers using the proprietary software on Bloomberg financial data terminals.

The 2014 complaint in the case alleged that the employees were required to be at their desks before their shifts began, were required to use parts of their lunch hour to finish requests, and were required to work past the end of their shifts to finish jobs – all of which could cause them to work more than the 40 hours for which they were paid. Yet they received no additional compensation for the extra time, which the complaint said should have been paid at time-and-a-half.

For the next few years, Bloomberg’s lawyers fought the case both on substantive and procedural grounds, but they lost in their effort to prevent the certification of a class by the court. Whereas most employers who experience that setback agree to settle, Bloomberg wanted its day in court. The trial finally began in April 2018. After about a week of proceedings, the company apparently did not like the way things were going and entered settlement talks with the plaintiffs. A deal soon followed.

What makes the company’s aggressive posture in this case surprising is that it had previously settled four other wage and hour lawsuits for amounts ranging from $346,000 to $5.5 million.

Bloomberg’s wage theft litigation troubles expanded after the company had been cited twice for wage and hour violations by the U.S. Labor Department, paying a fine of $522,683 in 2011 and $547,683 in 2013.

In addition to all these cases, Bloomberg recently agreed to pay $3 million to settle another overtime lawsuit involving call center workers (the case is not yet in Violation Tracker).

Bloomberg is not the only tech company to have run afoul of the Fair Labor Standards Act. Google’s parent Alphabet, Intel, Apple, Adobe Systems, Microsoft, and Oracle are also high on the list of those companies that have paid the most in wage theft settlements and fines.

Yet Bloomberg LP is the only one on the list whose founder, majority owner and CEO is seeking to be the presidential nominee of a political party deeply concerned about the treatment of workers.

The Controversial Corporations Exploiting Citizens United

It has now been exactly ten years since the U.S. Supreme Court opened the floodgates for special-interest political advertising in its Citizens United ruling. To mark the occasion, the Center for Responsive Politics has published an excellent report detailing how political spending has changed over the last decade.

One significant finding is that, although Citizens United overturned the prohibition on independent political expenditures by corporations, most companies have not taken advantage of that new right directly. The biggest surges in spending have come from wealthy individuals and from Super PACs.

This is not to say that corporations have stayed on the sidelines. CRP notes that they are funneling much of their spending through trade associations and dark money groups that do not disclose their donors.

To emphasize its point about the limited role of corporations in independent expenditures, the CRP report notes that only 36 companies in the S&P 500 have contributed $25,000 or more to Super PACs since 2012. The report notes that the biggest of these spenders are oil and gas companies but otherwise does not identify them.

Karl Evers-Hillstrom, the author of the report, agreed to share the full list with me, so I could learn more about which corporations are bucking the trend and getting more directly involved with political spending.

Seven of the 36 are those oil and gas companies, including giant producers such as Chevron and ConocoPhillips as well as the big fracking player Devon Energy. The utility industry accounts for eight of the 36 and includes some of the largest contributors to air pollution and carbon emissions: American Electric Power, Duke Energy, Exelon and Southern Companies.

Only three other industries account for more than one of the corporations on the list: insurance (Anthem, Centene and MetLife), casinos (Wynn Resorts and MGM Resorts International) and telecommunications (AT&T and Charter Communications).

The remainder consists of 14 corporations from different industries such as pharmaceuticals (Merck), tobacco (Altria), retail (Walmart), banking (BB&T, now part of Truist Financial) and miscellaneous manufacturing (3M).

The list thus includes some of the most controversial companies from many of the most controversial industries. Among the 36 are some firms that were involved in contentious mergers (e.g. AT&T’s acquisition of Time Warner) and policy issues (Anthem and Centene are big players in healthcare). After fighting for years over federal regulation of tobacco, Altria has moved into the contested business of vaping. Walmart was embroiled in a foreign bribery investigation.

One thing that characterizes nearly all the companies on the list is the fact that they have been implicated in significant compliance breaches. I checked the whole list against the data in Violation Tracker and found that the 36 firms account for more than $29 billion in fines and settlements.

The biggest penalty totals belong to Occidental Petroleum ($5.4 billion), American Electric Power ($4.8 billion), Merck ($3.3 billion) and Walmart ($2 billion). There are six other companies with totals of $1 billion or more. The average penalty for the 36 companies is $844 million.

What all this suggests is that, while most companies are not making full use of Citizens United, corporations that are engaged in controversial activities and have serious compliance problems can take advantage of the ruling and employ their financial resources to try to manipulate public policy in their favor. The threat to democracy thus remains.

Challenging Corporate Investment in Anti-Abortion States

For the past three decades, labor activists have watched with frustration as foreign automakers concentrated their U.S. investments in states hostile to labor unions and worker rights. The problem continues today as Volkswagen is reported to be colluding with state officials in Tennessee to thwart a new United Auto Workers organizing drive.

Now reproductive rights activists are facing a similar challenge: what to do about large corporations doing business in states that are taking aggressive action to restrict women’s right to choose.

There are already moves by some media companies to address the issue by saying they will reconsider working in Georgia, a favorite location for film and television production because of its generous tax credits. In recent days, companies such as Netflix, Walt Disney and WarnerMedia have made statements saying they could shun the Peach State because of its new law that would effectively outlaw abortion.

While trying to appear bold, the companies are actually taking a weak position by saying they would act only if the law takes effect, ignoring the fact that Georgia and the other states are paving the way for a weakening of reproductive rights by the U.S. Supreme Court even if their laws are struck down before being implemented.

The media industry is not the only sector that is susceptible to pressure campaigns. Many large corporations have made substantial investments in the hardline anti-abortion states, often receiving sumptuous subsidy packages from state and local officials. Here are examples from the Good Jobs First Subsidy Tracker:

Alabama: Toyota and Mazda got $900 million for an auto assembly plant. Amazon.com got $54 million for a fulfillment center. Google got $81 million for a data center.

Georgia: Kia got $410 million for an auto assembly plant. Baxter International got $211 million for a pharmaceutical production facility.

Kentucky: Amazon.com got $75 million for a distribution facility. Toyota got $146 million for an auto assembly plant expansion.

Louisiana: IBM got $152 million for a technology center. ExxonMobil got $118 million for a refinery upgrade.

Mississippi: Continental Tire got $595 million for a manufacturing facility. Toyota got $354 million for an assembly plant.

Missouri: Amazon.com got $78 million for a fulfillment center. Boeing got $229 million to expand its operations in the state.

Ohio: Amazon.com got $93 million for a data center. General Electric got $98 million for a global operations center.

It may be unrealistic to expect that corporations will abandon facilities in the anti-abortion states, but they may face pressure to avoid future investments in those places.  

The big subsidy packages that may be offered by those states to lure the investments could also come to be seen in a very different light – the same way that gifts from the opioid-tainted Sackler family to major cultural institutions are now treated as toxic.

Not long ago, we saw how economic pressure on states helped to undermine opposition to gay marriage. We will now see whether similar pressure, exercised by targeting big business investment, can also help defeat the attack on reproductive rights.