Marick Masters on the fate of press unions

Marick Masters, professor of business and adjunct professor of political science at Wayne State University, wrote a piece about the fate of press unions in light of the emergence of billionaire media moguls. “On Nov. 2, billionaire media owner Joe Ricketts abruptly shuttered the digital news sites DNAinfo and the Gothamist, terminating 116 employees. Days earlier, these employees had voted 25 to 2 to join the Writers Guild of America-East, exercising their right to collectively bargain under the National Labor Relations Act. Ricketts did little to hide his motives. In a Sept. 12 blog post, he had written that “unions promote a corrosive us-against-them dynamic that destroys the esprit de corps businesses need to succeed…. It is my observation that unions exert efforts that tend to destroy the Free Enterprise System.” Masters wrote: “Employers who show brazen disregard for the will of their employees will only change if faced with adverse repercussions. The Writers Guild of America-East has the power of the proverbial pen, and it could orchestrate a public relations campaign to inflict disrepute on Mr. Ricketts’s business operations. At the same time, I believe that labor, more generally, should continue cultivating public support of unions. If the public won’t support labor in a struggle against a businessman bent on denying employees a legitimate voice, there isn’t much hope.”

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