It’s no surprise that in an election year, issues such as entitlement of the rich, discrimination and workers’ rights would become part of the national conversation.  What is interesting is that all of these topics seemed more prevalently discussed among people in boardrooms than they were by the candidates on the election trail.  The battle of the People vs. the Purse Strings would live out in various incarnations throughout the year.

Here’s a look at just a few of the most talked-about business stories from 2012.


CHICAGO TEACHERS’ UNION – Mayor Rahm Emmanuel had to know that after jumping off the Obama Administration frying pan, he’d find himself soon engulfed by the proverbial fire.  It’s the Chicago way.  After suspending an 8-day strike that brought the city’s education system to its knees, officials, teachers and students, alike were glad to return to business as usual.  By most accounts, the strike yielded positive results for the Union. In addition to winning concessions on some of its demands, the Union’s action put the power of labor unions and labor issues squarely on the nation’s radar.  However, the Union did compromise on several of its demands – including increased benefits for laid off teachers and a performance-based compensation increase.



PAPA JOHN’S – Just days after President Barack Obama won another four years in office, disparaging remarks made by Papa John’s owner John Schnatter  sparked protests and shined the spotlight on the deep class divide that exists in the United States. Schnatter’s comments that the Affordable Healthcare Act, dubbed ObamaCare, would “hurt profits and force cutbacks in employee hours” led to a cry for boycotts of the successful pizza franchise.  The notion that an employer would, as Schnatter suggested, intentionally cut employee hours to avoid the expense of providing healthcare benefits is just one of the rising tensions between the employer class and the working class that came to the forefront of the nation’s conscience in 2012.


FACEBOOK IPO – The anticipation that built leading up to the Initial Public Offering of social media giant Facebook was next to maddening, and the event itself, on May 18, 2012, proved historical. With a peak market capitalization of over $100 billion, Facebook’s IPO became, not surprisingly, the biggest in internet history.  The debacle that followed, however, was something that most pundits and analysts had not predicted.   Facebook, NASDAQ and its underwriter, Morgan Stanley  are currently facing litigation over a myriad of issues that went wrong – including allegations that some Facebook executive tipped off industry insiders to the pending IPO.


WAL-MART STRIKE – The issue of workers’ rights was raised again when employees of discount shopping titan Wal-Mart threatened to strike over low pay and a lack of benefits on Black Friday – the busiest and most lucrative day of the year for the retail industry.  Organized by the United Food & Commercial Workers Union, the historic work stoppage succeeded in gaining support at nearly 100 cities across the United States.  An observation that is quite telling, however, is that, despite the national attention the striking workers received, their efforts hardly deterred shoppers out seeking deep discounts.


CHICK FIL-A – College Park, GA-based fast food restaurant Chick Fil-A is known for its uniquely staunch conservatism.  Unlike most of its competitors, the company retains sole ownership of its restaurants – as opposed to the typical franchise model.  The company’s Chairman and CEO S. Truett Cathy is a devout Southern Baptist and the chain‘s locations are famously closed on Sundays.  The chain’s COO Dan Cathy ignited a firestorm when he made several public statements regarding his support of the biblical definition of marriage and his opposition to same-sex marriage.  Battle lines were drawn along the issue of same-sex marriage and advocates for both sides launched concerted campaigns and efforts to draw support for their respective agendas.



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