The apparent decision by executives at Media Matters for America to oppose the unionization of their staff has left employees at the progressive media watchdog feeling stunned and betrayed, according to a statement from pro-union workers.
Media Matters management recently declined to recognize the union through the "card check" process, instead exercising its right to force a union election under National Labor Relations Board oversight. If an employer wants to keep a workplace union-free, the latter route can give it time to delay the proceedings, bring in union-busting consultants and pressure workers to vote down the union.
In the case of Media Matters, it also opens up the site's management to charges of hypocrisy. Granting a union recognition after a majority of workers sign authorization cards -- rather than putting them through the paces of a full-blown and perhaps ugly union election -- is often seen as a basic test of progressive ideals at a left-leaning, pro-labor organization.
In a statement Monday, workers identifying themselves as the Media Matters Organizing Committee voiced their disappointment at management's decision. They said that many of them "feel betrayed," left to wonder if they can advocate a pro-labor message under an employer "who is challenging our right to unionize" with the Service Employees International Union. Their statement in full:
Media Matters employees often write in defense of organized labor, and our work has demonstrated the virtues of organizing through card-check and the perils of being forced through a protracted NLRB election process. It is fitting, then, that we’ve chosen to unionize and attempt to lead our own lives by the principles we regularly advocate for in our work.
The actions of Media Matters executives have placed employees in the impossible position of continuing to produce content espousing pro-labor values for an employer who is challenging our right to unionize. Not only is management subjecting Media Matters employees to arduous NLRB procedures, the actions of their attorneys indicate Media Matters executives object so tenaciously to our union that they appear willing to prevent employees from ever having the opportunity to vote on the matter.
Many Media Matters employees feel betrayed by the unexpected and unexplained path our leadership has taken in response to our efforts to unionize. Our desire to organize should not be a controversial or surprising turn of events at a progressive organization like Media Matters for America. We continue to hold out hope that our executives will change course in favor of the path the organization has long advocated.
Media Matters employees contacted by HuffPost declined to comment beyond the statement. It's unclear how many workers are represented by the organizing committee or how many signed cards in favor of unionizing, though one worker described the card count to HuffPost as a clear majority.
The management of Media Matters did not immediately respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson told HuffPost last week in an email that the organization "respect[s] the rights of our employees and will work through this process."
In an interview with HuffPost last Thursday, SEIU Local 500 spokesman Christopher Honey said he and Media Matters employees were still hopeful that management would come around and not oppose the union effort.
"They're part of the progressive ecosystem, and I have to believe that supporting the rights of employees to unionize is the right thing to do," Honey said.
The Washington Examiner first reported Media Matters management's opposition to the union campaign earlier this month.