Labor Pains: None of Your Business

Labor Pains: None of Your Business
Business representatives nowhere to be found in CBS, AP coverage of AFL-CIO.

By Amy Menefee
July 25, 2005

     As two large unions split from the AFL-CIO, possibly changing the direction of the labor movement, news coverage glaringly omitted any voices from the ranks of management. Reports focused on declining union membership without exploring its causes or even interviewing non-union workers, who are the vast majority.

    CBS on the picket line: The CBS Morning News for July 25 featured Cynthia Bowers interviewing striking service workers outside a Chicago hotel. She included union member Efrain Cortina, who had been on strike from his hotel job for two years; Teamsters President James Hoffa; and Rich Trumka, the AFL-CIO secretary. She did not, however, step inside the hotel to speak with its management.

As Trumka put it, working families are the losers, and to split us (unions) up over the minute differences that exist is unconscionable. Unions represent only a small portion of working families, but Bowers didnt bother to talk to non-union workers or management.

    Associated Press: unanswered rhetoric: Ron Fournier of the AP posted a report following the Teamsters and Service Employees International Union withdrawal from the AFL-CIO. In more than 1,000 words, Fournier failed to include any business representatives. He included a series of quotations from labor and Democratic party leaders, however. The following rhetoric from labor leaders went unaddressed in the article:

At a time when our corporate and conservative adversaries have created the most powerful anti-worker political machine in the history of our country, a divided movement hurts the hopes of working families for a better life. -- AFL-CIO President John Sweeney

When introducing Sen. Barack Obama (D-Ill.), Fournier wrote, He urged labor leaders to adapt to the global economy, which is pressuring U.S. workers out of jobs.

Fournier did not include comments from the corporate and conservative adversaries Sweeney mentioned, after White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan said the president was leaving the dispute to the unions. The article was an echo chamber for pro-union voices, ignoring the two straight years of positive job growth the United States has seen.

The article also blamed globalization, automation and the transition from an industrial-based economy for the decline in union membership. The article didnt seek comment from non-union workers and didnt include the idea that many workers dont want to join unions.