I noticed recently that CNN gets it wrong on unions and the Employee Free Choice Act.
I know, this is not really a surprise to most people readin this blog, but you never know, perhaps I'm reaching out to those who aren't really familiar with CNN and their anti-worker stances. So, let' me take a few minutes to Fact Check, CNN's Fact Check of McCain's October 13th speech:
In a speech Monday, October 13, in Virginia Beach, Virginia, Republican presidential candidate Sen. John McCain took on Democratic opponent Sen. Barack Obama's stance on unions. "Senator Obama is measuring the drapes (in the White House), and planning with Speaker Pelosi and Senator Reid to … take away your right to vote by secret ballot in labor elections," he said.
First, let's talk McSame and his rampant anti-unionism.
- He does not support Firefighter's right to collectively bargain
- He opposes IAFF's attempts at ensuring all firefighters have the right to join a union
- In 1996 He voted for a bill that would have repealed the section of the National Labor Relations Act that allows states to determine their own laws on union security agreements and replaced it with a federal mandate banning such agreements.
- In 2005, McCain tried to limit overtime for workers by radically overhauling the Fair Labor Standards Act whereby workers would be paid overtime for hours in excess of 80 in a two week period instead of hours in excess of 40 in a one week period.
- In 2005">McCain has blocked legislation (Fillibuster and voting to not end debate) on The Employee Free Choice Act (2007), Striker's Rights (to not be replaced by Scabs - multiple votes), He's voted for the elimination of Davis Bacon's prevailing wage rates,
Okay, got some of that out of the way, let's now talk about how wrong his statement is and then take a look at CNN's bizarro world coverage.
McCain notes in his statement that the Employee Free Choice Act will eliminate secret ballot elections. This is not true, employees can still request an election. But it will give equal time to unions to speak to workers including equal time to the pro-union workers on those jobs.
These comments always fail to note that "Secret Ballot Election" is not really an election in the sense that most Americans understand an election to be. In the US, our labor laws were written in the 30's and anti-unionism was very high and that fear is often represented in the manner in which those laws were written.
Take this op-ed in the Hill by Gordon Lafer, a political scientist at the University of Oregon and the author of Free and Fair? How Labor Law Fails U.S. Democratic Election Standards:
For instance, in elections for Congress or the president, it is illegal for a private corporation to tell its employees anything that favors one candidate or the other. But in workplace elections, it is standard practice for supervisors to hold repeated one-on-one conversations with the individuals they oversee. Here, the person who has the most direct control over hiring and firing, promotion, raises, hours and duties tells their subordinates in no uncertain terms why a union would be bad for them. The message is clear: If you ever want a raise, or a day off to take your kid to a doctor, you better not support the union.
Many of the tactics used to intimidate employees are legal. However, because federal labor law contains no possibility of punitive fines, prison or any other type of sanction, employers break the law at will. Last year, approximately 15,000 Americans were illegally fired, suspended or otherwise financially punished for trying to form a union in their workplace.
An election where one party controls the media, requires voters to attend its rallies, enforces a gag order on opponents and fires voters for backing the opposition is undemocratic and un-American. The Employee Free Choice Act would reform the current system to guarantee that Americans who want to form a union are able to do so in part by ending the charade that we call a Labor Board election by giving workers a second option: the choice to form a union by a majority sign-up process.
CNN is perpetuating a myth that somehow union elections are not only secret elections but also FAIR and they are neither. The message to workers is always clear and pounded into them day in and day out that joining a union will mean no sick days or possible firing or goodness knows what else.
But it's not actually the election that takes a long time. Most elections (about 92%) are actually completed within 60 days of the request. The issue is all of the appeals to the elections and all of the employer's ability to stack the deck in their favor, and with card check, WORKERS get a choice to do a card check by majority signature or to request an election, a fair election.
Tula Connell posted at Firedoglake last year about this and I wanted to take just a small excerpt from it:
But Big Money groups like the anti-worker and Orwellian-named Coalition for a Democratic Workplace and CUF, the Center for Union Facts (not), are waging a massive effort to defeat the bill—making these past few days critical for supporters of the bill to make our voices heard. CUF alone is spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on full-page ads in The New York Times, The Washington Post and elsewhere, as well as on ads on CNN and Fox (natch) trashing the bill.
These groups' big lie is that the Employee Free Choice Act will take away the secret ballot election process. It would not. Instead, it would ensure workers have another option in addition to the ballot process—majority sign-up (card-check). The employee advocacy group American Rights at Work does a great job here in showing how a ballot election at the workplace is far from democratic—and so it can't be compared with the type of elections we had in this country before Bush.
CNN is wrong. Their Fact check uses the same old LIE from the right wing and makes it "truth." It's laziness to the extreme because there is enough information out there for them to see the difference, hell, if they'd just read the actual legislation they'd see that, instead they post this kind of crap:
Verdict: True. McCain accurately represents Obama's stance, although the candidates disagree on the merits of the plan. Organized labor backs Obama's position, while business groups and some non-union workers support McCain's.
Non-union workers support McCain? My parents are non-union workers and mom supports Obama and Dad, he's still undecided (I'm working on him). Given the chance, 60 million US workers would join a union. The problem is here that there is little chance because doing something in support of a union also means risking suspension, sitting through anti-union propaganda, or risking your family's livelihood.
Card Check is the right thing to do for American workers. We are the back bone of the country and it's about time that both businesses and also politicians understood that point. More importantly, it'd just be nice if CNN understood the difference between a Card Check system with optional FAIR elections and the current systems of intimidation, fear mongering and illegal activities on the part of employers trying to keep out unions through a "secreat ballot election".
I suppose it's too much to ask for that CNN figure out that "Secret Ballot" is really code for "NO UNIONS WANTED" and yeah, that includes the rhetoric of McCain, Mr. Anti-Union himself. But I'm not sure why they think that we aren't going to call them out on this shoddy work. I mean, come on, how long would it have really taken them to do their fucking job and get it right instead of throwing out more ridiculous Right-Wing talking points? This doesn't make you Fair and Balanced, it just makes you fox-light. Of course, perhaps that's what you're really going for, faux style news that always puts forward the Right Wing Talking Points.
CNN, I expect more from you.
But you know, I don't want to close on a sour "I expect more from CNN note" I want to end this with my favorite Union quote this year:
It’s time we had a President who didn’t choke saying the word “union.”
This is exactly what I want out of a President.