WSJ headline today: "Merrill Gave $1 Million Each to 700 of Its Staff"
According to the newspaper:
Merrill Lynch & Co. "secretly" moved up the date it awarded bonuses for 2008 and richly rewarded its executives despite billions of dollars in losses, giving bonuses of $1 million or more apiece to nearly 700 employees, New York Attorney General Andrew Cuomo said.
Sorta makes you wonder about that media microscope that was used late last year to scrutinize the pay of middle class autoworkers, doesn't it?
Today's Examiner features an op-ed by Richard Berman titled "Employee Free Choice Act may backfire on unions." At the bottom of the column, the Examiner identifies Berman:
Richard Berman is executive director of the Center for Union Facts, a non-profit 501(c3) union watchdog organization. Learn more at www.unionfacts.com.
Now, you might think from that identification, and the column headline, that Richard Berman's opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act is motivated by a desire to look out for the well-being of the nation's labor unions.
In fact, Berman is an anti-union activist and lobbyist who does the bidding of big business via front groups he creates with warm-and-fuzzy sounding names like "The Center for Consumer Freedom" and "The Employee Freedom Action Committee."
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington has much more about Berman on their Berman Exposed web page, including this summary:
Richard Berman has been a regular front man for business and industry in campaigns against consumer safety and environmental groups. Through his public affairs firm, Berman and Company, Berman has fought unions, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, PETA and other watchdog groups in their efforts to raise awareness about obesity, the minimum wage, the dangers of smoking, mad cow disease, drunk driving, and other causes. Berman runs at least 15 industry-funded front groups and projects, such as the Center for Union Facts and holds 16 "positions" in those organizations.
Each year, Berman, using his front groups to spread misinformation, spends millions of dollars distracting the public with misleading ads.
Numerous media figures have asserted that the proposed stimulus package supported by President Barack Obama would amount to spending at least $223,000 for every job created, echoing a press release issued by the Republicans on the House Appropriations Committee. But by calculating the per-job cost by dividing the estimated total cost of the stimulus package by the estimated number of jobs created -- and thus suggesting that the sole purpose of that package is to create jobs -- these media figures ignored other tangible benefits stemming from the package, such as infrastructure improvements and education, health, and public safety investments.
On Fox News' Happening Now, Newt Gingrich echoed a common distortion employed by opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act, claiming that it "tak[es] away your right to a secret-ballot vote before being forced to join a union." In fact, the legislation does not eliminate employees' rights to a secret ballot; as The New York Times reported, "Business groups have attacked the legislation because it would take away employers' right to insist on holding a secret-ballot election to determine whether workers favored unionization."
The Washington Post purported to represent organized labor's argument for passage of the Employee Free Choice Act by reporting that "unions contend" employers exert "unfair pressure" on workers before elections. However, the word "pressure" inaccurately describes what the "unions contend" are the tactics used by employers to stop a union from organizing, which include intimidating workers, firing workers, and threatening to shut down factories and businesses.
The New York Times uncritically quoted opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act claiming that the bill would "eliminate ... the right" to a secret-ballot election to determine whether workers wish to unionize, but did not mention that supporters of EFCA counter by pointing out, as the Times itself previously has, that the bill would only "take away employers' right to insist on holding a secret-ballot election."
In a column about the "coming war" over the Employee Free Choice Act, Portfolio's Matthew Cooper wrote that "[p]olitical veteran Mark McKinnon, a former media adviser to George W. Bush, says he's 'never seen business this fired up.' " But Cooper did not identify McKinnon as a spokesperson for the Workforce Fairness Institute, an organization opposing the legislation.
The Washington Times reported that House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid "back a card-check bill that would allow unionization of a workplace if the majority of employees sign union cards, eliminating the secret ballot that workers cast to decide whether to allow a union." In fact, the Employee Free Choice Act does not eliminate employees' rights to a secret ballot; as The New York Times reported, "Business groups have attacked the legislation because it would take away employers' right to insist on holding a secret-ballot election to determine whether workers favored unionization."
The daily this week published a full-throated anti-union opinion piece (screed?) that attacks Labor Secretary nominee, Congresswoman Hilda Solis. It was written by Bret Jacobson. Who's he? Here's how the LA Times describes Jacobson at the bottom of his op-ed:
Bret Jacobson is founder and president of Maverick Strategies LLC, a research and communications firm serving business and free-market think tanks.
Sounds rather innocuous, right? Not quite. Blogger Matt Browner Hamlin fills in the blanks. Bottom line:
The most important piece of Jacobson's biography - his professional connection to one of the biggest anti-union groups in America - is left out of a column that specifically pushes [an anti-union] agenda.
Seems if the Times wants to allow Big Business surrogates to denigrate unions and their workers in the pages of the daily, than the Times ought to at least be upfront about who's doing it.
On-screen text at MSNBC and a Washington Times article and headline echoed the Republican accusation that the United Auto Workers union killed the $14 billion bailout for General Motors, Ford, and Chrysler. In fact, Senate Republicans refused to support legislation endorsed by the White House, a majority of members of the House and Senate, and the UAW.
Media echoed the Republican accusation that the United Auto Workers union killed the $14 billion bailout for GM, Ford, and Chrysler. But The New York Times stated that it was Senate Republicans who "refused to support a bill endorsed by the White House and Congressional Democrats."
In a Boston Herald column, Michael Graham repeated the falsehood that union autoworkers have "$78-per-hour jobs." In fact, the figure representing the hourly cost of labor to U.S. automakers -- a cost that GM puts at $69 -- includes not only current workers' hourly wages and benefits, such as health care and retirement, but also retirement and health-care benefits that U.S. automakers are providing for current retirees.
On World News, Chris Bury falsely claimed that "Ford, Chrysler, and GM pay union workers more than $73 an hour in wages and benefits." In fact, according to General Motors, the figure -- which GM puts at $69 per hour -- is based not only on current workers' hourly wages and benefits, such as health care and retirement, but also retirement and health-care benefits that U.S. automakers are providing for current retirees.
Behold the miracle when misinformation is rooted out.
An editorial and a column published in The Washington Times included the false claim that U.S. autoworkers earn an average of $70 an hour or more in wages and benefits. In fact, according to General Motors, the figure is based not only on current workers' hourly wages and benefits, such as health care and retirement, but also retirement and health-care benefits that U.S. automakers are providing for current retirees.