BF starts distribution system in Spain; GE Appliances owner Haier dragged into GOP China politics; and Tenn. man arrested over 20 lbs. of marijuana allegedly shipped via UPS

A news summary focused on 10 big employers; updated 4:55 p.m.

BROWN-FORMAN announced this morning that it’s launching its own distribution network in Spain, Europe’s third-largest whiskey market and the world’s ninth-biggest overall. The Louisville spirits giant will add about 40 employees in the expansion. The current distributor is Importaciones y Exportaciones Varma S.A. under a contract that will end June 30, 2017. “Establishing our own distribution organization in Spain will support the development of the Jack Daniel’s trademark as well as our broader portfolio in this dynamic market where premium spirits are growing,” said Thomas Hinrichs, president of Brown-Forman’s Europe and Asia markets.

Spain will join Australia, Brazil, Canada, China, the Czech Republic, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Mexico, Poland, South Korea, Thailand, Turkey, and the U.K. as markets where Brown-Forman owns or directly manages its own distribution. (press release). The company employs 1,300 workers in Louisville and another 3,300 across the U.S. and around the globe.

Trump and Pence
Trump and Pence

GE: Haier Group has been drawn into the bitterly contested Republican race for the White House, less than two months after the Chinese company completed its $5.6 billion purchase of GE Appliances. The conservative Federalist website says Indiana Gov. Mike Pence’s past support of Haier’s research and development center in Evansville, Ind., is an example of the politician’s helping China “steal” U.S. jobs. Although Donald Trump has run on a campaign attacking U.S.-China trade, the website implies his selection of  Pence as running mate casts doubt on the GOP nominees’ anti-China bonafides (Federalist). In the past, the site has sparked stories in more mainstream media, including Politico and The Daily Beast.

Haier Pence
Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, second from right, and Haier Group President Liang Haishan, far right, at the Evansville ribbon-cutting.

A year ago, Pence joined Haier executives at a ribbon-cutting ceremony for the Evansville center. The pro-trade America China Society of Indiana quoted Pence saying at the time: “When I met with Haier executives in China this spring, I was invigorated by the company’s plans to accelerate technology development in Indiana. In addition to our strong workforce and pro-growth business climate, Indiana has quickly become a center for innovation, making the Hoosier State the natural choice for this facility as Haier continues to increase its presence in the United States” (America China Society). GE Appliances employs 6,000 workers at Appliance Park in Louisville’s south end.

UPS: In Spring City, Tenn., a man was arrested and charged with drug trafficking after Rhea County Sheriff’s deputies caught him with 20 lbs. of marijuana he allegedly received via UPS from California. Sheriff’s investigator Charlie Jenkins said the man, George Robert Luttenberger Jr., told him he’d been getting pot from California since 2012 (Herald-News). In Brooklyn, a federal judge allowed the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission to proceed with a lawsuit accusing UPS of discriminating against male workers and job applicants who wore beards or long hair for religious reasons (Reuters).

PAPA JOHN’S fired a Denver employee who used a racial slur on a customer’s order slip and apologized to the teenager who placed the pizza order. “This action is inexcusable and doesn’t reflect our company values,” company spokesman Peter Collins told the Denver Post.

This was the second instance in less than a month where a Papa John’s employee was fired over an apparently racist order slip circulated on Twitter; the first one involved an Asian-American customer’s order at a Louisville restaurant near the end of June.

The Denver area restaurant is owned by Peyton Manning, the retired Denver Broncos quarterback who’s promoted Papa John’s in TV commercials. The teenager’s mother saw the order ticket and asked a community activist named Brother Jeff Fard for help (Denver Post). Yesterday, Fard sent a Tweet that included a possibly NSFW photo of the racial slur:

Rumor researcher Snopes has looked into the case, and found it’s true (Snopes).

KFC demonstrated again how seriously it treats negative news on social media before it goes viral, hitting back after a customer in the U.K.’s Exeter shared photos online appearing to show a restaurant’s chicken was under-cooked. KFC said it checked the cooking records from the day in question, and they showed the meat was fully cooked (Express & Echo).

HUMANA‘s stock continued its roller-coaster ride this morning, falling 1.8% to $155.85 during the first minutes of trading, amid renewed worries the Justice Department will block the Louisville insurer’s $37 billion sale to Aetna of Hartford. Humana shares have now tumbled 12% since news emerged July 7 that the deal was facing stiff DOJ opposition.

TACO BELL: A Washington Times opinion writer says an Alabama Taco Bell restaurant that refused to serve two sheriff’s deputies on Saturday “represents an anti-law enforcement rhetoric that is held by too many” (Times). Taco Bell fired the employee and apologized to the deputies.

Texas Roadhouse logoTEXAS ROADHOUSE: In Pasadena, Texas, police officers will serve tables and collect tips during tonight’s dinner shift at the city’s Texas Roadhouse, with proceeds benefiting Special Olympics Texas (Patch). In Boston — and probably across most of the Louisville-based chain — employees are called “Roadies,” according to a help-wanted ad (Craigslist). Texas Roadhouse employs about 500 workers at its Louisville headquarters, plus 48,000 more in 48 other states and five foreign countries.

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