Oct
13
2011

Bait-and-Switch Boosterism on Trade Pacts

Corporate media's incredibly uncritical boosterism of so-called "free trade" deals has been remarked on many times, and continues to be remarkable. What else but blind faith would allow a story to carry a line like one in the October 12 New York Times, about textile industry opposition to the new deal with South Korea: "The production of shirts and sheets has shifted steadily from the United States to countries with lower-cost labor. Economists argue that this process strengthens the economy as companies and workers shift to more productive and lucrative kinds of work." Of course, if the Times has evidence […]

Oct
07
2011

Is Glenn Beck Back at Fox News Channel?

It sounded like it, but it was just Bill O'Reilly channeling Beck's Soros/MoveOn/Big Labor paranoia, minus the chalkboard: On Wednesday in New York City, there was another far-left demonstration as a bunch of people marched on Wall Street. Why? We aren't exactly sure. What we do know is that these folks are zealots who are being organized by some very interesting people. Does the name MoveOn.org mean anything to you? How about George Soros? Well, for the first time, MoveOn, funded in part by Soros, has openly allied itself with the protesters. In addition, we have some unions in the […]

Sep
20
2011

Unfortunately for Michael Barone, 'Sellout to Unions' Actually Helped Economy

Columnist Michael Barone, best known for editing The Almanac of American Politics, wrote a piece (Boston Herald, 9/20/11) declaring that Barack Obama's "Sellout to Unions Staggers Economy." After noting that "some pro-union moves have a certain ritual quality," he got down to the really troubling behavior: Other steps are more important. Fully one-third of the $820 billion stimulus package passed almost entirely with Democratic votes in 2009 was aid to state and local governments. This was intended to keep state and local public employee union members–much more numerous than federal employees–on the job and to keep taxpayer-funded union dues pouring […]

Aug
08
2011

Covering the Verizon Strike: Are the Bosses Telling the Truth?

Labor disputes are often about compensation– salary and/or benefits. Management claims its employees are actually doing just fine, workers say otherwise. 45,000 Verizon workers are on strike on the East Coast over salary, pension and health benefits and collective bargaining rights. One would hope that reporters would try to referee such disputes over compensation. In the New York Times, Steven Greenhouse prints the claims side by side. Yesterday: Verizon called its unionized employees well paid, saying that many field technicians earn more than $100,000 a year, including overtime, with an additional $50,000 in benefits. But union officials say that the […]

Jun
22
2011

NYT and the Pampered Public Worker's Pension

When you see a headline like "Public Unions Take On Boss to Win Big Pensions," you know what you're going to get– more scaremongering about runaway public employee pensions. The New York Times delivers, with a lengthy front-page piece by Charles Duhigg that mostly takes the side of the Republican lawmakers trying to cut benefits in the name of fiscal discipline. The article is largely based around Jim Righeimer, a conservative activist turned city council member in Costa Mesa, California, whose become something of a national star on the right. He can rattle off the anecdotes about sky-high pensions: The […]

Jun
17
2011

NYT's Greenhouse vs. 'Generous' Public Worker Compensation

Yesterday New York Times labor reporter Steven Greenhouse (6/16/11) reported on efforts in several states to get public-sector workers to increase contributions to state pension funds–or, to put it more bluntly, to take a pay cut. Political leaders are claiming this is simply the only thing they can do–and Greenhouse helps them make their case. Right from the start, Greenhouse frames the political shift as "the most definitive sign yet that the era of generous compensation for public-sector employees is ending." Many studies have shown that public sector compensation isn't actually all that generous, and such workers might lag slightly […]

May
17
2011

David Gregory's Factcheck Fail on Show's Sponsor

Labor journalist Mike Elk (In These Times, 5/16/11) made an excellent point after watching NBC host David Gregory interview Newt Gingrich on Sunday's Meet the Press (5/15/11). Elk wrote: Speaking yesterday on Meet the Press, Republican presidential candidate and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.) said that "the Obama system of the National Labor Relations Board [NLRB] is basically breaking the law to try to punish Boeing and to threaten every right-to-work state." While Meet the Press host David Gregory vigorously challenged Newt Gingrich on details of his personal life, he failed to challenge Gingrich on his false […]

Apr
01
2011

NYT's Labor Reporter Pits 'Swaggering' Public Workers Against 'Taxpayers'

In a mostly informative "news analysis" ("Ohio's Anti-Union Law Is Tougher Than Wisconsin's," New York Times, 4/1/11) comparing new anti-union laws that restrict collective bargaining rights in Ohio and Wisconsin, New York Times labor and workplace correspondent Steven Greenhouse seems at one point to adopt the framing and language of anti-labor politicians and pundits: Moreover, at a time of huge budget deficits and of Republican dominance in many states, including states like Ohio and Wisconsin where unions once had swaggering power, the pendulum has swung toward the taxpayer instead of the government workers paid by the taxpayer. Pitting "swaggering" unionized […]

Mar
09
2011

Washington Post's Pension Propaganda

With a headline like "Public Workers Draining State, Local Pension Funds," I guess you know what to expect from Karen Tumulty's article in the Washington Post today (3/8/11). It appears the story's headline was changed somewhere along the way, but unfortunately the headline wasn't the only problem. Her lead paragraph introduces an obviously unrepresentative case–a guy who somehow had four¬† government jobs in one California town, and thus is enjoying a $500,000 pension. Tumulty writes: Deals like the one he got rankle Californians at a time when the state's public employee pension plans are "dangerously underfunded, the result of overly […]

Mar
04
2011

Rose Hearts Huckabee: 'Public' TV on Wisconsin Protests

The Charlie Rose show–which airs mostly on public television stations–has mostly skipped the protests in Wisconsin, one of the biggest labor stories of the past decade. This is not a total surprise–Rose seems to identify with The Bosses more than with the workers–so it was interesting to see how he finally approached the subject on his March 2 show. The first guest was Time's Joe Klein.He seems toidentify with public sector workers, he knows they're not getting rich, but he doesn't like their unions: "Public employees' unions are a pretty questionable proposition," as he put it. The solution in Wisconsinis […]

Mar
02
2011

Bill O'Reilly's Public Opinion Solution: Don't Poll Union Members

You had to assume that there would be folks in the media who wouldn't like the recent CBS/New York Times poll that found strong public support for public workers. Sixty percent of those polled oppose stripping public workers of collective bargaining rights; 56 percent opposed cutting pay or benefits of those workers in the name of deficit reduction. Fox's Bill O'Reilly has a solution to this problem: Union households shouldn't be polled. As he explained last night (3/1/11) And the New York Times headline today reads "Majority in Poll Back Employees in Public Sector." But the poll is misleading because […]

Feb
23
2011

Factchecking ABC's Factcheck on Public Workers

On Monday (2/21/11), ABC World News wanted to set the record straight on Wisconsin's budget problems. As host George Stephanopoulos put it, the debate is over whether pensions and other benefits for public workers are to blame for the crippling budget shortfalls in Wisconsin and other states. Tonight Barbara Pinto has a reality check. What a relief–this is something that surely screams out for clarification. The report starts with a quote from Republican Wisconsin governor Scott Walker. ABC's Pinto weighed in on his side: Part of that problem, pension plans for America's public workers that are under funded by at […]

Dec
11
2008

Debunking the Overpaid Autoworker Salaries

Today New York Times business columnist David Leonhardt (12/10/08) weighs in on the $73-an-hour autoworker. His verdict is somewhat mixed–¬Ěthe Big Three do have to pay the so-called legacy costs that are part of this calculation, but it's misleading to conflate that with current earnings of autoworkers: So what is the reality behind the number? Detroit's defenders are right that the number is basically wrong. Big Three workers aren't making anything close to $73 an hour (which would translate to about $150,000 a year). And he adds a little media criticism: The Big Three built up a huge pool of […]