NYT’s Labor Reporter Pits ‘Swaggering’ Public Workers Against ‘Taxpayers’

In a mostly informative “news analysis” (“Ohio’s Anti-Union Law Is Tougher Than Wisconsin’s,” New York Times, 4/1/11) comparing new anti-union laws that restrict collective bargaining rights in Ohio and Wisconsin, New York Times labor and workplace correspondent Steven Greenhouse seems at one point to adopt the framing and language of anti-labor politicians and pundits:

Moreover, at a time of huge budget deficits and of Republican dominance in many states, including states like Ohio and Wisconsin where unions once had swaggering power, the pendulum has swung toward the taxpayer instead of the government workers paid by the taxpayer.

Pitting “swaggering” unionized public workers against “taxpayers”–who are, in fact, mostly other workers–may be a tried-and-true strategy of anti-labor forces, but it doesn’t accurately reflect the way the public see the issues. As the Times‘ own polling expert points out, Americans seem to be siding with public workers on the the issue of collective bargaining rights.

Considering the fact that this isn’t the only time the paper has pushed a false divide between government workers and nearly everybody else, perhaps Greenhouse would have more accurately portrayed the divisions had he written, “The pendulum has swung toward anti-labor activists and journalists, and away from public workers and the majority of the public who support them.”

About Steve Rendall

Senior Media Analyst and Co-producer of CounterSpin Steve Rendall is FAIR's senior analyst. He is co-host of CounterSpin, FAIR's national radio show. His work has received awards from Project Censored, and has won the praise of noted journalists such as Les Payne, Molly Ivins and Garry Wills. He is co-author of The Way Things Aren't: Rush Limbaugh's Reign of Error (The New Press, 1995, New York City). Rendall has appeared on dozens of national television and radio shows, including appearances on CNN, C-SPAN, CNBC, MTV and Fox Morning News. He was the subject of a profile in the New York Times (5/19/96), and has been quoted on issues of media and politics in publications such as the Chicago Tribune, Washington Post and New York Times. Rendall contributed stories to the International Herald Tribune from France, Spain and North Africa; worked as a freelance writer in San Francisco; and worked as an archivist collecting historical material on the Spanish Civil War and the volunteers who fought in it. Rendall studied philosophy and chemistry at San Francisco State University, the College of Notre Dame and UC Berkeley.