Jobs Report, Murdoch and Unions, etc.

by Chris Sturr | August 05, 2011

Twitter Shadow over San Francisco

Twitter Shadow over San Francisco

(1) BLS July Jobs Report: The Bureau of Labor Statistics released its Employment Situation Summary today, and it is pretty dismal. Total non-farm payroll employment rose by a mere 117,000. Though the unemployment rate went down ever so slightly, in fact the percentage of people employed is at a new low, according to Dean Baker at the Center for Economic and Policy Research:

The Labor Department reported that the economy created 117,000 jobs in July and revised prior months’ growth up slightly to bring the average over the last three months to 72,000. This rate of job growth is below the 90,000 a month needed to keep pace with the growth of the labor force. Consistent with this fact, the employment-to-population ratio (EPOP) fell slightly to 58.1 percent, tying its previous low for the downturn. While the unemployment rate edged down to 9.1 percent, this was entirely attributable to people leaving the labor force.

Read the rest of Dean Baker’s analysis of the report here.

(2) Murdoch and Unions: We noticed a great piece from the Belfast Telegraph about the history of Rupert Murdoch’s union busting and how it might have help fostered a climate that led to the current scandal.  It starts with collusion between the Metropolitan Police and News International to bust a strike of print workers in East London. Sound familiar?

The Metropolitan Police worked in coordination with NI executives throughout. Police attacks on the picket-lines were a regular occurrence. Saturday nights – when it was vital for the company to ensure that its prize asset, the News of the World, reached the shops – saw particularly brutal confrontations. In at least one instance, mounted police cavalry-charged directly into the pickets to clear a path for lorry-loads of copies of the NotW.

Anyone wondering how the Murdochs and the Met developed a relationship so close it eventually became scandalous – that’s how. Anyone wondering how the “newsroom culture” which facilitated phone-hacking developed – here’s how.

The argument–well worth reading in full, here, is that a “de-unionized” environment was ripe for the development of a culture in which reporters could be bullied if they didn’t go along with the competitive culture of fear imposed by the bosses:

The absence of any organised expression of the distinct interests and concerns of journalists meant management priorities could be imposed at will. Journalists were hired on short-term contracts, typically of a year or six months. There was no need for any sacking procedure. Anyone who didn’t prove as malleable as the Murdochs, Brooks and Coulsons demanded would be cast adrift when their contract expired. The result was, as phone-hacker Glenn Mulcaire has put it, “fear all the time”

That’s all for today, except to note that the image above is something I put together for our Sept/Oct issue, to go with an article by San Francisco writer and activist James Tracy about Twitter, Inc. threatening to leave San Francisco unless the city lowered its taxes.  That and lots more great stuff in the works for our annual labor issue.

And to note that I just posted a web-only piece by Vassar prof Tim Koechlin on the debt-ceiling debacle; find it here.

And one last thing:  our summer “dry season” fundraiser is still going on.  If you haven’t donated yet, please do so.  There’s still time to get a copy of John Miller and Arthur MacEwan’s fantastic new book, if you donate $50 or more.

–Chris Sturr

1 comment

One Comment

  1. You’ll note that Murdoch’s empire is far far stronger and well-moneyed in the US. The UK scandal will NEVER EVER reach US shores. In fact, here’s a strong prediction: Murdoch will gain EVEN MORE POWER as we run up to the 2012 election. Fox News will be instrumental to electing those who will, going forward, destroy the US economy once again.

    Another strong prediction: Murdoch’s empire will be found to have received gobs o’ cash from extremely well-moneyed interests to push forward the GOP/Teatard agenda, and there will never be anything you or I or anyone else will ever be able to do about it. It will be seen widely as a criminal act, but Congress will make sure that he’s never investigated and that his empire stands.

    I guarantee it.

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