....LMB: "Port Authority"....

October 22, 2002

Remember the "dockworkers' strike" that happened several weeks ago here on the California coast that ended with Bush ordering the workers to return to their jobs? David Bacon does (all quotes below from Bacon's article)

"On the surface, it seems incomprehensible why the Pacific Maritime Association (PMA), made up of shipping and stevedoring companies, would need a federal order to open the gates of the closed terminals. After all, they'd shut them themselves, and could have opened them at any time during the 10 days they'd locked out their own employees. Even at the end of that period, the workers had accepted a Department of Labor proposal that they go back to their jobs for 30 days, under their old labor agreement."

So there's common knowledge error #1 about this conflict. We've been told over and over that it was a strike, when in reality it was a lockout. The work stoppage is 100% the fault of the PMA, not striking workers. According to the PMA, they locked the workers out because they claim that the workers had organized a "slowdown," not quite a strike, but a lesser strategy employees can use against their employers. However, "according to the Journal of Commerce, 30 percent more cargo was crossing the docks than last year -- the greatest volume in history. In fact, the speedup on the docks was so strong that the accident rate shot up, costing the lives of five longshoremen since January. When the union told its members to work at a safe speed, the PMA called it a slowdown."

While Bacon is clearly a pro-labor journalist, he usually takes the good with the bad. Obviously the "working safer" explanation could be a lame excuse by the union, but if it were, Bacon would usually call them on it. So I'm going to buy Bacon's version of events, that the accusations of "slowdown" were false.

So what was this conflict all about?

"The PMA wanted two things. It sought a guarantee that the workers could be forced to continue unloading ships through the next two months, the peak of the shipping season, when the goods traveling from the sweatshops of the eastern Pacific Rim are en route to stores for the Christmas rush. And it wanted the union made so vulnerable that it would be unable to put any pressure on employers during negotiations and forced to accept a settlement on the association's terms.

For the PMA, the Taft-Hartley injunction is a step in a well-ordered campaign that has unfolded with inexorable precision since last spring. And its success in using the power of the federal government to tilt the collective-bargaining process completely in employers' favor should be a wake-up call to every union in the country. If it succeeds on the West Coast docks, the same strategy will appear in bargaining in industry after industry. Unions that are already suffering from declining membership will see their power to bargain drastically eroded as well."

Oh yeah. Class warfare.

Posted by Jake at 09:39 PM

Looky Jake, yer prediction came true.

While the nurses (unlike the dockworkers) had actually gone on strike, their strike was for only one day. The hospital decided to lock 'em out to show 'em who's really boss.


ps: is it possible to throw html in here? I can't seem to create the above as a link. Sorry, you'll have to copy and paste it. :\

Posted by: michele at October 24, 2002 10:13 AM
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Media News

December 01, 2004

Media Mambo

The Great Indecency Hoax- last week, we wrote about how the "massive outcry" to the FCC about a racy Fox TV segment amounted to letters from 20 people. This week, we look at the newest media scandal, the infamous "naked back" commercial. On Monday Night Football, last week, ABC aired an ad for it's popular "Desperate Housewives" TV show, in which one of the actresses from the show attempted to seduce a football player by removing the towel she was wearing to bare her body to him. All the audience saw, however, was her back. No tits, no ass, no crotch, just her back.

No one complained.

The next Wednesday, Rush Limbaugh told his shocked viewers how the woman had appeard in the commercial "buck naked".

Then, the FCC received 50,000 complaints. How many of them actually saw this commercial is anyone's guess.

The article also shows the amazing statistics that although the Right is pretending that the "22% of Americans voted based on 'moral values'" statistic shows the return of the Moral Majority, this is actually a huge drop from the 35% who said that in the 2000 election or the 40% who said that in 1996 (when alleged pervert Bill Clinton was re-elected). This fact is so important I'm going to mention it over in the main news section too.

Brian Williams may surprise America- Tom Brokaw's replacement anchor, Brian Williams, dismissed the impact of blogs by saying that bloggers are "on an equal footing with someone in a bathroom with a modem." Which is really funny, coming out of the mouth of a dude who's idea of journalism is to read words out loud off a teleprompter. Seriously, if parrots were literate, Brian Williams would be reporting live from the line outside the soup kitchen.

In related news, Tom Brokaw has quit NBC Nightly News, and it appears that unlike his predecessor, the new guy can speak without slurring words like a drunk.

PR Meets Psy-Ops in War on Terror- in February of 2002, Donald Rumsfeld announced the creation of the Office of Strategic Influence, a new department that would fight the war on terror through misinformation, especially by lying to journalists. Journalists were so up in arms about this that the Pentagon agreed to scrap the program.

Don't you think that an agency designed to lie to the public might lie about being shut down, too?

This article gives some examples about the US military lying to the press for propaganda and disinformation purposes.

Tavis Smiley leaving NPR in December- African-American talk show host Tavis Smiley is opting to not renew his daily talk show on National Public Radio. He criticized his former employers for failing to: "meaningfully reach out to a broad spectrum of Americans who would benefit from public radio but simply donít know it exists or what it offers ... In the most multicultural, multi-ethnic and multiracial America ever, I believe that NPR can and must do better in the future." He's 100% correct. NPR is white. Polar bear eating a marshmallow at the mayonaise factory white. And the reason it's so white is that it is trying to maintain an affluent listener base (premoniantly older white folks) who will donate money to their stations. This is a great paradox of American public broadcasting, that they have a mandate to express neglected viewpoints and serve marginalized communities, but those folks can't donate money in the amounts that the stations would like to see.

U.S. Muslim Cable TV Channel Aims to Build Bridges- it sounds more positive than it is "Bridges TV" seems to simultaneously be a cable channel pursuing an affluent American Muslim demographic, and a way of building understanding and tolerance among American non-Muslims who might happen to watch the channel's programming. I was hoping it would be aimed more at Muslim's worldwide, but it ain't. Still, I'd be interested in seeing how their news programs cover the issues.

Every Damned Weblog Post Ever- it's funny cuz it's true.

Wikipedia Creators Move Into News- Wikipedia is a free online encyclopedia, created collectively by thousands of contributors. It's one of those non-profit, decentralized, collective, public projects that show how good the internet can be. Now, the Wikipedia founders are working on a similar project to create a collaborative news portal, with original content. Honestly, it's quite similar to IndyMedia sites (which reminds me, happy 5th birthday, IndyMedia!). I'll admit, I'm a bit skeptical about the Wikinews project, though. IndyMedia sites work because they're local, focused on certain lefty issues, and they're run by activists invested in their beliefs. I'm not sure what would drive Wikinews or how it would hang together.

CBS, NBC ban church ad inviting gays- the United Church of Christ created a TV ad which touts the church's inclusion, even implying that they accept homosexuals into their congregation. Both CBS and NBC are refusing to air the ad. This is not too surprising, as many Americans are uncomfortable about homosexuality, and because TV networks are utter cowards. But CBS' explanation for the ban was odd:

"Because this commercial touches on the exclusion of gay couples...and the fact that the executive branch has recently proposed a Constitutional amendment to define marriage as a union between a man and a woman, this spot is unacceptable for broadcast."

Whoa, what? First of all, the ad does not mention marriage at all. Second, since when do positions opposite of the Executive Branch constitute "unacceptable"? This doesn't sound like "we're not airing this because it's controversial", this sounds like "we're afraid of what the President might say."

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