NBC Still Promoting Downside of GM Labor Contract

     Journalists continue to claim that a new labor contract at General Motors is likely to hurt workers at other businesses. How do they know? By relying on union members and a pro-union academic.

     On October 20, anchor Brian Williams, of the NBC Nightly News, told viewers It's a deal that is almost sure to have a ripple effect beyond GM.

     Reporter Anne Thompson turned to University of California, Berkeley Prof. Harley Shaiken for his negative assessment of the compromise between GM and the union. Shaiken pointed out that GM is the largest private provider of health care. That meant the deal was bad to Shaiken. The net result of all of that is you press down at GM. All American workers union and nonunion alike feel the pressure.

     Thompson didnt explain that Shaiken is a labor professor with a pro-union and anti-industry bias. In an August 2 opinion piece that appeared in the New York Daily News, Shaiken supported unions and said corporations in our much vaunted 21st century economy are increasingly employing 19th century labor relations strategies.

     Shaiken also wrote a 2004 paper entitled The High Road to a Competitive Economy: A Labor Law Strategy, that advocated for a pro-union bill entitled The Employee Free Choice Act. In that paper, he described unions as the cornerstone of a democratic society.

     This reporting is consistent with other recent union stories, including one on NBC just three days earlier. ABC did a similar piece on October 17. The media have typically left out the huge cost of benefits that unionized GM workers have enjoyed. According to the October 21 USA Today, GM workers pay about 7 percent of the total cost of health care, while the average worker in the United States pays about 26 percent.

     Thompson also discussed plans by GM auto parts manufacturer Delphi to ask for a 60 percent wage cut. However, she left out the fact that average Delphi workers make far more than most employees. According to The October 12 Washington Post With health care and other benefits added in, Delphi workers' compensation amounts to about $65 per hour. That would work out to $135,200 for a year of 40-hour weeks.

     The NBC account didnt include any business spokesman, but it did throw in a GM retiree who complained that any cut in his benefits was stealing. Thompson ended her piece in a one-sided manner, by focusing only on workers trying to survive in a global marketplace. She didnt dwell on how unions have contributed to corporate overspending or even explain why so many businesses have moved to right to work states.