According to its own mission statement, Media Matters for America is “a Web-based, not-for-profit, 501(c)(3) progressive research and information center dedicated to comprehensively monitoring, analyzing, and correcting conservative misinformation in the U.S. media.”
As such, the organization has received financial support from labor unions such as the National Education Association and SEIU ($100,000 each in 2012). Nevertheless, it appears that MMA has been running a non-union shop all these years.
The Washington Examiner reports that MMA staffers have filed for a representation election with the National Labor Relations Board. The employees seek to have SEIU Local 500 as their collective bargaining agent. Because Maryland is a card check state, the Examiner reports this as evidence that MMA refuses to recognize the wishes of its employees and insists on a secret ballot election.
That’s possible, but there is another explanation. The union needs 50% + 1 of the proposed bargaining unit members to receive recognition with a card check. It needs only 30% of them to file for an election.
MMA reported having 96 employees and a $9.6 million budget in 2012 (it still ran a deficit, however). Its chairman, David Brock, received a salary of $273,954 for 22.5 hours of work per week, which sounds like reason enough for a union organizing campaign.
MMA management retained attorneys from Perkins Coie to represent it before the NLRB. The firm is well-known in Democratic circles and describes its labor services this way:
As the Obama NLRB continues to issue union-friendly decisions, we understand the attendant challenges that employers face in developing and maintaining productive employee relations and economic sustainability.
Perkins Coie focuses on keeping employers at the forefront of emerging issues in the areas of social media, union organization campaigns and responses to strikes and picketing. We also serve as effective negotiators of labor agreements.
Sure, it’s fun to ridicule MMA about all this, but just as employees have the right to form a union, management has the right to protect its interests. If MMA believes it can perform its mission better with a non-union staff, it should be able to make that case. A secret ballot election is the best way to protect workers from coercion from both sides, since they vote alone, and anonymously.
So have a laugh, then root for a fair and balanced debate between the sides, after which the staffers will exercise a free choice about their relationship with their employers. It could happen, you know.