Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Labour Intensive

MSNBC's Morning Joe had quite the moment on camera today with Andrew Sorkin's challenge: "Name a successful unionized company. Think. You're going to go to [commercial] break before you come up with one. And that's the problem." Naturally, the panel couldn't come up with one. 'Cuz dem yoonyuns are wot's wrong wif Ahmurrcan bidness these days - it just goes without saying, right?

Maybe not.

Steve Benen and Jamison Foser took turns shredding their arguments, each with a particularly sharp cut to deliver:

Now, my first response was to wonder whether the folks behind the cameras, filming the media personalities, are union members. And the employees who installed and operate the on-set lights. And the folks who built the "Morning Joe" set.

But perhaps those unions don't count, since Brzezinski and others are specifically interested in unionized companies that "work" and are "successful."

GE is one of the world's largest companies; in 2006, its revenues were greater than the gross domestic products of 80 percent of UN nations. The company made more than $18 billion in 2008 -- again, billion with a b, and again, those are profits, not revenue. All that despite (or, perhaps, because of) the fact that 13 different unions represent GE workers.

Oh, and GE owns NBC-Universal, which owns MSNBC, which pays Joe Scarborough a handsome salary (and the unionized workers who help get his show on the air considerably less.)

Foser goes on, in addition, to point out a nasty little labor dispute between the National Association of Broadcast Employees and Technicians-CWA and NBC as a possible reason for the morning crew's absentmindedness. Apparently the union and the network have been trying since September to negotiate renewal of a contract that expired two months ago, apparently without progress, and the union's become unhappy enough with NBC's efforts to start picketing.

I do hope that Scarborough isn't expecting his mic, or lighting, or any other of a thousand union-labor-supplied production items to work all that well on tomorrow's show.

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