There are no current representations of [union workers] in the mainstream media. We have long since fallen out of favor as subjects of photographs or other works of art. There are no interviews, roundtables or summits disseminated in the news media featuring the knowledge and opinions of our leaders, let alone that of the rank and file. Newspapers have long since eliminated their “labor beats.” There are no holidays in honor of our national heroes of labor; no day off for Mary Harris “Mother” Jones, Asa Philip Randolph, Cesar Chavez. No chapters in our children’s schoolbooks that give recognition to our history, our struggles, our triumphs, or our defeats.
Making us faceless, makes us disposable.
Without our presence, media imagery of unions and union workers is distorted. This distortion serves to make our interests—and those of our unorganized brothers and sisters, unimportant. Whining, even. Aren’t we glad to just have a job?
Back in the day, [union workers] had our own forms of media. We published our own newspapers (in several languages), held rallies and night classes for our memberships. We did not rely on other to tell our truths. As corporate control of the media tightens, as our publically-owned analog airwaves are scheduled to be auctioned off to the highest bidder, I can’t help but wonder why we are not more active in pursuing our own interests in this realm. We need to do a better job of supporting the pro-labor media that exists, and create new forms of our own. Our survival, individually and collectively, depends on it. We will not hear from the mass media how the erosion of the eight-hour day contributes to rising injury and death rates at work. We will not hear how understaffing and doing more work with fewer people results in more illness, injury and repetitive-use injuries. We will not hear critiques of the repeal of the Illinois Scaffolding Act; we will not get answers to our question on why Illinois still does not have an Electrical Licensing Act. We may be informed that we have a new OSHA director and a new MSHA director, yet we won’t hear about their backgrounds or why they were chosen to lead these critical agencies. New OSHA director Edwin G. Foulke made his bones being the OSHA expert at Jackson Lewis, a huge law firm specializing in union busting. Richard Stickler, our new MSHA director, was the head of mine safety in Pennsylvania during the time of teh Quecreek mine near-disaster, where fortunately nine trapped miners were rescued. He was notable for presiding over mines wih an injury rate double the national average. Every year, we celebrate the memory of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., a giant who lived among us—and every year, during the retelling of the story of his assassination, the mass media neglects to mention that the sanitation workers’ strike that Dr. King went to Memphis to support, was in response to the deaths of two workers. Even here in Springfield, with the plethora of historical information offered to tourists, there is no mention of John L. Lewis, or that his house still stands near Washington Park. There is no plaque to identify it; it remains an unacknowleged part of our past.
– La Lubu, A Worker’s Memorial
Goddamn. La Lubu really, really needs to post more often.
Related: if you haven’t already, make sure to bookmark and/or subscribe to LabourStart, a pro-labour global media hub definitely worthy of attention, support, solidarity.