Thursday, June 4, 2009

Look For the Union Label….

Those yucksters over at Morning Joe declared yesterday morning that there are no successful unionized companies any more.

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.

Thus spake Andrew Ross Sorkin, the financial reporter for the New York Times (which, by the way, has a unionized work force).

As others have noted, Mr. Sorkin and the rest of the MSNBC talent were saying this in a television studio surrounded by unionized labor running the cameras, the lights, and building the set. And the people doing the commercials in the break they were waiting for are all union members. I could go on, but TPM has compiled a list of successful unionized companies.

Mr. Sorkin quickly realized he misspoke and he issued an apology and a retraction.

I did not mean to suggest that there are literally no successful companies that employ union workers. Of course there are! Your readers have provided a good list (though I might quibble with some of the names.)

I made the unscripted comment with my financial columnist hat on in the context of the problems at GM. That’s what the discussion was about on the program. And when you look at some of the once great iconic American industries that have faltered — automobiles, airlines, steel, apparel, etc — there is a fair question worth asking about whether those industries were helped or hurt by their unions. But let’s leave that debate for another day.

That may be a fair question, but that’s not what he said, and for every faltering unionized industry, there are ten that are doing just fine… or as well as can be expected in the current economic conditions.

(By the way, I’m a member of a union, so to speak: The Dramatists Guild. But we don’t go on strike; we just get writers’ block.)