Leaders of the consumer-labor coalition staging the April 17 "Big Business Day" show put on a sneak preview yesterday.
Before an audience liberally sprinkled with business and trade-group representatives, they announced the names of 11 allegedly wayward corporations targeted for "citizen shadow boards of directors."
There was no applause.
Instead, some of the business representatives turned reporter, peppering coalition members with demands to present evidence that corporate America is afflicted with an epidemic of -- as the coalition puts it -- "crime in the suites."
Mark Green and Ann Beaudry, members of the "Big Business Day" board of directors, obliged with a recital of wrongdoing -- environmental pollution, civil rights abuses, corporate secrecy and misuse of corporate influence -- allegedly engaged in by many of the nation's corporations.
Green and Beaudry said detailed charges would be kept under wraps until the main event -- scheduled to take place next week in 150 cities.
The 11 companies named yesterday so far are the only ones the coalition has targeted for scrutiny by its citizen "shadow boards of directors."
The firms include American Electric Power, a New York-based utility holding company; Castle & Cooke, an agricultural firm based in Honolulu; Citicorp, a major international financial corporation based in New York; the giant E.I. du Pont de Nemours chemical firm based in Wilmington; Eli Lilly, a pharmaceutical operation based in Indianapolis; Exxon, New York, oil; Flour, an international construction firm based in Irvine, Calif.; Grumman, aircraft-aerospace, based in Bethpage, New York; Occidental Petroleum, Los Angeles; U.S. Steel, Pittsburgh; and Winn-Dixie, a major supermarket chain, based in Jacksonville, Fla.
"We selected these 11 corporations based on a variety of criteria, weighing region, sector, and responsiveness to workers, consumers, the environment and communities," Green said.
"These 11 are not necessarily the worst companies -- but they are representative of the problems posed by Big Business in America," he said.
That disclaimer had little effect on Howard Vine, an associate director of the National Association of Manufacturers, whose organization represents 12,400 businesses and corporations, including most of those named by the coalition.
"These people are vindictive," said Vine, who was on hand for the announcement. "They are acting in their own personal interest . . . trying to create an organization."
Vine contended that the coalition actually is the handiwork of organized labor, which, he said "is discontented because it has been losing many battles [to business] . . . They're trying to get back at us," he said.