Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Media Watch: Are Workers Facing Intimidation in the Workplace?

Groups rally for, against union-organizing bill
February 17, 2009

...The Employee Free Choice Act would amend federal labor laws to allow for greater use of "card checks" to form unions. Under the proposal, the National Labor Relations Board would have to certify a union without ordering a secret-ballot election if a majority of the workers in a plant signed authorization cards.

President Barack Obama supports the legislation, but critics say the bill would make it harder for workers to reject a union.

"It's not about whether we want unions," (Americans for Prosperity Spokesman Dallas) Woodhouse said. "Everyone should be free to join a union or not, but they shouldn't be coerced into joining a union by having union cards shoved in their face."

"Everyone should be free to join a union..." This is a statement of opinion. It is not a statement of fact that must be backed up with quantifiable data. It is simply an opinion. A valid one, I believe, but an opinion nonetheless. The story goes on to say....Supporters of the bill say the legislation would restore a balance of power between workers and employers.

"Workers have faced a significant level of intimidation in the workplace, and (bill opponents) want to preserve that system," said Will Cubbison, labor caucus chairman of the Young Democrats of North Carolina. "Workers needs more rights. They need better representation, and with the Employee Free Choice Act, the playing field would be leveled and they'd have a better opportunity for that." ...

This is a statement of fact. It is either true or untrue. Are there any facts to back up this statement? Can the speaker document even one case of workplace intimidation in North Carolina? Unfortunately, we'll never know because no one asked those questions.

There used to be a day in journalism when reporters were expected to ask who/what/when/where/why/how questions when someone made a statement of fact. There used to be a day when the goal of a journalist was to get at the truth.

Maybe those days are gone, but I think they can be revived. The goal of a news story should not be to just get two talking heads with differing opinions to give their version of events. It should be to get at the truth. If journalists don't go behind speakers and check their facts, those people will just be emboldened to say anything with no regard to veracity of their claims. That doesn't serve journalism well, it doesn't serve politics well, and it certainly doesn't serve the people well.

"Facts are stubborn things; and whatever may be our wishes, our inclinations, or the dictates of our passion, they cannot alter the state of facts and evidence." John Adams