Apr 21 2009

NBC’s Secret Ballot Falsehood

Today show misrepresents pro-union bill, asks Wal-Mart for explanation

On April 15, NBC‘s Today show host Matt Lauer mischaracterized the Employee Free Choice Act, then turned to Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke for further explanation of the pro-labor bill.

The Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) would make it easier for workers to form unions by increasing penalties for employers who violate workers’ right to organize, and by giving workers the right to form a union if a majority signs cards declaring they want one–the so-called “card check” provision.

NBC‘s Lauer declared that EFCA “would do away with secret ballots.” This is inaccurate; under the proposed law, workers would still have the right to vote in a National Labor Review Board (NLRB) “secret ballot” election if 30 percent of the workforce signs cards, just as they do now. Under current law, employers rather than workers get to decide whether unionization requires a card check or a vote. The false claim that EFCA would eliminate secret ballots has been a major talking point of anti-EFCA campaigners.

In an interview with Wal-Mart CEO Mike Duke, NBC host Lauer advanced that falsehood, saying EFCA “would do away with secret ballots.”

Lauer then asked Duke:

Some people say, unions say it’ll make it easier for American workers to earn a fair salary. Others, like the guy who runs Home Depot, the co-founder, Bernie Marcus, say it’s going to cripple American business. What’s the truth?

Duke replied by dismissing EFCA as “really one of those bills that would be damaging to the American economy long-term.” Lauer seemed unsurprised, responding: “Probably expect that response from Mike Duke, the new CEO of Wal-Mart.”

Yes–asking the new CEO of an adamantly anti-labor corporation that was recently exposed for forcing workers to attend anti-EFCA meetings what he thinks of the proposed pro-labor bill is bound to yield a predictable result. That’s why it would make sense for NBC‘s Today show to seek out another point of view on the Employee Free Choice Act. This exchange between Duke and Lauer is the only time the Employee Free Choice Act has been mentioned on the program.

ACTION: Ask the Today show to correct host Matt Lauer’s false claim that Employee Free Choice Act “would do away with secret ballots.” And ask them to interview a supporter of the Employee Free Choice Act–someone who can counter the arguments made against the bill by Wal-Mart CEO Duke.



Today show


Phone: (212) 664-4602

Web form: http://today.msnbc.msn.com/id/29041920/

Please share your letters to the Today show with other readers by posting them in the comments section on the FAIR Blog.