Busted in Boston

Jeff Boudreau sent along this article from the website of In These Times called “At Boston’s Premier PBS Station, Unionbusting Tactics and a Koch Connection,” providing details about the union-busting move by WGBH suits in “resolving” its labor dispute. It seems that Tea Party mogul (Americans for Prosperity) and ultra-conservative financier David Koch, hyper-active in the war on unions, is a member of the ‘GBH board, notes author Kari Lydersen. As Kari writes of the management move:

The three-year contract guts the union that represents a third of the station’s total workforce, making about half of them at-will employees, giving managers the right to fire on-air talent for any reason without recourse and allowing the outsourcing of work without union approval, which could mean hundreds of job cuts, as described by the union.

The management plan also includes the power to assign employees to work across different media platforms, which could mean significantly increased workloads and give management reasons to fire employees who aren’t trained for the new assignments. Management’s contract also reduces the time a laid-off employee has recall rights to the same job  from a year to nine months, and eliminates severance pay if laid-off workers refuse a rehiring offer in a similar job.

And management’s contract reduces employees’ control over their own schedules, allowing managers to force employees to take unpaid leave or vacation time, and eliminating the past guarantee of two consecutive days off each week.

The article then points out the connection to the right-wing puppet master:

The station’s board of trustees includes billionaire Tea Party backer David Koch, The Boston Phoenix reported:

Public records show that Koch, along with his brother Charles, gave more than $17 million over 10 years to groups that organize against workers. They also provided seed money for the private sector front group Americans For Prosperity (AFP), which is currently backing the union-busting Walker in Wisconsin and comparable efforts elsewhere. A WGBH spokesperson tells the Phoenix that “the Trustees have no involvement in the day to day running of WGBH.

A statement from the union says it appreciates Koch’s financial support, but:

As a board member, Mr. Koch’s well-known political and personal philosophy should not influence WGBH’s labor relations policies. We truly hope that Mr. Koch’s seat on the board and WGBH’s aggressive tactics with our union is just a coincidence. . . . The same right wing forces that are trying to bust public sector unions in Wisconsin are at work right here in Boston trying to bust WGBH’s largest union.

Google the Koch brothers and you’ll find a wide assortment of stories linking them to a war against President Obama (from the New Yorker,here), union busting in Wisconsin (New York Times, here), climate change denial (care2.com, here), and a panoply of devious deeds in their crusade opposing government regulation (see, e.g., The Independent, here). Not surprisingly, ‘GBH suits deny any link between their move to crush the union and the charitable works of the billionaire brothers. But as commenter Alex Pirie remarked, “Why don’t we just cash out, elect the Koch brothers President and Vice President and move to . . . Sweden, Canada?”

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One Response

  1. Union busting is the inevitable end result of years of Congress kow-towing to the rich while bankrupting the middle class. Billionaires such as the Koch brothers and their ilk see unions as an obstacle to achieving 2 classes, the ruling elite and their serving class. Artists & musicians will only be allowed to achieve the prosperity that their masters feel is appropriate. And yet I have friends and family here in Texas who buy totally into the hooey that taxes on the rich amount to “job killing.” I think that I’m secure at 55 with my union job, but unless the working class of this country wakes up soon there will be no hope for generations to come.

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