Friday, November 13, 2009

Naked contempt for workers

The Courier's coverage of the Safeway/Fry's labor action over just a day and a half cuts a window into the editors' minds.

Over on the front page, Jason Soifer's story is sourced entirely from two unhappy union members. It includes no balancing facts or opinions. He wouldn't have had to go far to get some, such as Frank Cuccia's letter, which appears on the opinion page today and so must have been bouncing around the offices for a couple of weeks. But Jason's source-challenged story was enough to spark an angry broadside from the unnamed editor, condemning the union for withholding the vote from the membership. Tut tut. (His use of a quote from a company PR flak defending the rights of the poor downtrodden union members was particularly entertaining.)

Then, within hours of the editor's rush to judgment, comes the breaking story that, surprise surprise, the union's tactics have won a better settlement from Safeway and the union will vote on that rather than the crappy deal the company offered two weeks ago, before the strike threat.

The labor action had been coming for months and had been an active news story for weeks, but the Courier had nothing to say. The first word it offers its readers on the subject is shamelessly biased against the union. The slapdash editorial extends this bias, slamming the union for not settling while it was in the midst of hardball negotiations, and spuriously accusing it of anti-democratic practices.

I can think of no example of Courier coverage over the last few years that more clearly illustrates the radical bias at work at the Courier.

Will we see an editorial retraction now that all this has become clear? I'll give nice odds to anyone who wants to take that bet.


Anonymous said...

I honestly think it's not bias on their part but mismanagement at the top. Hansen clearly has other things on his mind and when news 'happens' his rush comes across as bias.

Mia said...

No bet here. There has never been a lot of support for unions (that I've witnessed) in this here red state, but it seems to continue to get worse. I've watched many people I know buy into the demonizing of unions, which seemed to be extremely kindled during the automotive industry collapse. I personally can thank a union for providing my father with a fair wage and benefits. One issue seems to be that people just can't accept the fact that too many large industries will exploit for profit. There are some fantastic companies doing a great job on their own to take care of their employees, but not enough of them to provide the needed incentive (by stealing enough of the "good" employees) to change the rest. There are plenty of good workers that just need a job to go around. Most people I talk to are common working folk so it's always difficult for me to understand their contempt for unions. Maybe some people get a little resentful about their own wages and benefits when compared to those other "common" people who invest in a union. During the said collapse, I heard people raising hell about auto workers topping $45an hour (presumably they'd been working long hours in the factory for many years), but not uttering a word about the CEO wages. Maybe they just can't find the self-worth to see the discrepancy. While CEOs collected multimillion dollar bonuses, union workers accepted paycuts, taking them from an average of $28 to between $14 & $18 (source online: The Motley Fool) And from what I can find, when these overpaid union workers were topping $45 an hr, the CEO had, on the lowest end, $10m, plus, plus. Many of which CEOs oversaw all of the final decisions, I assume, that brought the companies down. But all I ever heard about from ordinary wage earners in this area was that the unions were the downfall.