Media Moves

Bad media coverage contributes to union's problems

January 18, 2007

William Collins, a columnist for the Hernando Today newspaper in Florida, argues Thursday that the media coverage — or lack thereof — of labor issues has created problems for unions.

Collins wrote, “America is a land of only slightly fettered capitalism. In deference, the media offer daily business news and market reports to please advertisers, investors and their own executives. But such reports grant only the shortest shrift to workers in general, and unions in particular.

“Indeed many newspapers and television networks suffer labor problems of their own, which they generally are loath to publicize.

Labor Power“Consequently, the constant struggle by workers to gain union status, and the parallel struggle by established unions to safeguard their steadily eroding legal rights, generally are fought in unpublicized private desperation. Mostly, it is only when a strike intrudes on someone’s comfort that worker rights make it onto the news pages at all. Or when a major newsworthy corporation or institution suddenly finds itself embarrassed by its presumptuous behavior.

“One classic example is President George W. Bush’s alma mater, Yale University and its associated hospital. Though they are world leaders in education and health, both institutions practice medieval labor policies. Understandably preferring to pay generous fees to its own lawyers rather than to instructors, janitors, nurses, cafeteria aides and other basic workers, Yale has increasingly become an icon of the modern anti-union crusade.

“This is OK. As a uniquely high-profile villain, Yale’s horror stories rush into print in a profusion that publishers would rarely allow for corporations. Thus, we readers have gained an invaluable window into that relentless implacable war between workers and owners. Since there is no Labor Section in the press, we would otherwise remain largely ignorant of many abuses.”

Read more here.

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