Post Writes in Solidarity with Striking Janitors
Workers of the world unite â€“ on the pages of The Washington Post Business section. The Post made the gathering easy, describing a huge union campaign to organize janitorial workers in Houston as a battle of â€śa $5.25-an-hour cleaning woman with breast cancerâ€ť against â€śmulti-billion dollar corporations.â€ť
The Postâ€™s Sylvia Moreno and Dale Russakoff labored long and hard to spin this story that depicted the huge Service Employees International Unionâ€™s (SEIU) â€śdebut campaign in the right-to-work Southâ€ť as a battle for justice.
The article read like the notes from a union meeting rather than a balanced piece of journalism. In all, Moreno and Russakoff quoted six people â€“ three striking janitors, a protester, the head of the union and a Democratic politician. In more than 1,100 words, the writing combo allotted just 18 words to mention that a few of the companies didnâ€™t want to comment.
Instead, the story was one long picket line filled with Houstonâ€™s striking workers â€śshaming this oil-rich cityâ€™s business leadersâ€ť about â€śpoverty-level wages.â€ť
Those wages, according to a chart accompanying the article, actually are slightly above the federal minimum, but thatâ€™s not enough for the Post, the union or the workers. Interestingly, one of the strikers earned $7 an hour before he too went on strike. The story then mentioned how Democrats have vowed to raise the national minimum wage to $7.25 in the next congressional session.
Thatâ€™s still wasnâ€™t enough for the SEIU, which wants $8.50 an hour, full-time status for janitors and health benefits. According to its own Web site, SEIU isnâ€™t exactly David battling Goliath. It â€śis the fastest-growing union in North America, with 1.8 million members in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.â€ť
To accomplish its goals, the union has even flown protesters in from around the country to, as the Post admitted, break the law. According to the story, â€ś14 out-of-town protesters were arrested for chaining themselves to the front door of the 40-foot-tall tower of glass, steel and graniteâ€ť at Chevron headquarters.
Nowhere in the article were representatives of business or right-to-work groups quoted.