Workers of the world unite – 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 “a $5.25-an-hour cleaning woman with breast cancer” against “multi-billion dollar corporations.”
The Post’s Sylvia Moreno and Dale Russakoff labored long and hard to spin this story that depicted the huge Service Employees International Union’s (SEIU) “debut campaign in the right-to-work South” 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 – 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 didn’t want to comment.
Instead, the story was one long picket line filled with Houston’s striking workers “shaming this oil-rich city’s business leaders” about “poverty-level wages.”
Those wages, according to a chart accompanying the article, actually are slightly above the federal minimum, but that’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.
That’s still wasn’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 isn’t exactly David battling Goliath. It “is the fastest-growing union in North America, with 1.8 million members in the United States, Canada, and Puerto Rico.”
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, “14 out-of-town protesters were arrested for chaining themselves to the front door of the 40-foot-tall tower of glass, steel and granite” at Chevron headquarters.
Nowhere in the article were representatives of business or right-to-work groups quoted.