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Monday, September 6, 2021

Stupid news column celebrates anti-labor union day

My local newspaper is part of the demise of journalism.  It is a daily paper, but runs on the news schedule of a weekly.  It  struggles to publish at all.

In April of 2020, the paper announced that it was selling off its press and the paper would be printed in Sioux Falls.  The move involved the firing of 21 production employees.  Since then, the paper has eliminated timeliness as a criteria for the way it handles news. It has to bridge 200 miles between its editorial offices and its printing plant and back again. Stories by local reporters about local events often run days after the event happens.  For example, the report on Northern State's first football game of the season on Thursday night appeared in Saturday morning's paper.  The local radio monopoly broadcasts the game in real time, and university athletic department has a summary and statistics up on its website shortly after the game.  

I cite this information to show that the paper is struggling to stay alive.  But also to note that it doesn't provide much reason as to why it should.

On its editorial page for the edition that covers the Labor Day weekend, it ran a column with the headline:


This Labor Day, SD can celebrate a milestone for worker freedom

 The author of the column says we should celebrate the fact that 

South Dakota is a right-to-work state:

And, as a resident of South Dakota, you can celebrate the fact that your state and 26 other right-to-work states across the country are now home to a majority of America’s working people. This means that workers in South Dakota — and most employees in America — can now freely choose whether to join or financially support a union or abstain from doing so.

 Labor Day was originated and made a national holiday by the labor union movement.  The column stupidly ignores the purpose and the origins of Labor Day.  It is an ill-disguised attack on collective bargaining.  

When workers vote to unionize a workplace, they elect to have a collective bargaining contract govern the way workers are treated.  Those employees who are not part of the management are the bargaining unit.  Some states require everyone in the bargaining unit to contribute to the costs of representation.  The column takes note of those states:

Even amidst all this progress, however, in 23 states union bosses are still granted the power by law to force every worker in a private sector workplace — even those who don’t want the union and never asked for its socalled “representation” — to fund union boss activities or be fired.

That is a misrepresentation of the range of ways unions relate to employers.  These are the ways:

  • Closed Shop
    A company that only employs union members and requires them to secure and maintain union membership as a condition of employment.
  • Union Shop
    A company that doesn’t require employees to join a union in order to be hired, but they must join within 30 days of employment.
  • Open Shop
    A company that may have a union, but hires both union and non-union employees, and union membership is not a requirement for continued employment.
  • Agency Shop
    A company that has a union, but hires both union and non-union employees, and union membership is not a requirement for continued employment; however, non-union employees have to pay a fee to cover collective bargaining costs.
  • Right-to-Work
    State laws that ban companies from demanding that their employees pay union dues or fees as a condition of employment.
Furthermore, collective bargaining must be done within the constraints of federal law.

The column does not stand up to even the most cursory fact-checking, let alone the application of the most basic human intelligence.  And that leaves the question of why in the world would the editors choose to publish it on the day we honor good labor?


Jake said...

Thanks, David, for exposing some more of the rot and corruption so prevalent in a far too long GOP controlled tate like ours. Such BS as your "paper" publihes simply belongs on right-wing social media.

David Newquist said...

Business leaders claim that American workers don’t want or need unions anymore. But the Gallup poll reveals that Americans’ support for unions has been increasing — from 48% in 2009 to 65% today.

Jerry K. Sweeney said...

The legislation to create a national holiday to celebrate the folks who work for a living was introduced by a South Dakota senator who would, in this current climate, undoubtedly receive death threats and expulsion from the party for his action.

As for right to work laws, the accurate title would be 'right to starve'. Full disclosure: My father was a business agent for the Iron Workers union in Kansas. I subsequently served in that capacity at SDSU in the period when the faculty were 'allowed' to organize. I swan, Joe Hill had the right of it!

William Reynolds said...

I’ve always felt “right to work” was code for “right to freeload,” having known people who think they’re clever for not paying union dues but benefiting from union efforts paid for by members.

Anonymous said...

It's a good thing US Senator James Kyle South Dakota from Aberdeen who was a main sponsor for Labor Day is not alive today to see what has happened in the state.

How did a monopoly happen with radio in the Aberdeen area? The federal government allowed this?

It is shockingly sad what has happened to the former Aberdeen American News. Rather than continue to be an embarrassment it should just cease and become the Sioux Falls Argus Leader Aberdeen edition with a small section for Aberdeen, Watertown and greater South Dakota. Even the Argus has been gutted years back with much of the operation either in Denver or elsewhere outside of South Dakota. The 2nd floor was practically empty except for a few cubicles.

Miranda Gohn

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