Blogs Brought Attention To The Security Guard Strike

Over the last few weeks I have been writing about the plight of security guards working for a company called Inter-Con, a contractor at Kaiser Permanente Hospitals in California. One post I wrote on this was titled, Why Don’t We Hear About Labor Issues Anymore? and I want to get to that subject some more here. But first, I want to go over what was covered.
The security guards went on strike because their employer was interfering with their right to form a union. The first post, Security Guards Striking for the Right to Have Our Laws Enforced

This strike is not against Kaiser and is not to ask for money or benefits; it is not even to form a union in the first place. This strike is just to ask that our laws please be enforced. This may be a lot to ask for in today’s corporate-dominated system, but they’re asking for it anyway.

The second post, Why They (And You) Need A Union, asked,

How else are workers going to get back their rights, get health care, get pensions, and get paid? If you see a better idea out there, please let us all know because this strike and the things happening to these security guards shows that it is very very difficult to form a union. In today’s environment where workers are afraid of employers moving their jobs overseas – or even just laying them off and telling everyone else to work harder – and then giving their pay out as raises to the executives and multi-million-dollar bonuses to the CEO, this is a very brave action to take.

Then, in Unions: Sticking Together to Fight Corporate Power,

You and I are individuals, alone. But corporations have the ability to amass immense power and wealth and influence. You and I as individuals must stand alone against this power and wealth. What can you or I or anyone else do on our own? The average person in our society has very little ability to stand up against this kind of power and wealth.
Over time people discovered that there are some things they can do that will work. One of these has been to form unions. By joining together the workers in a company can amass some power of their own. The company needs the workers in order to function so the workers — if they stick together — have the ability to make the corporation obey employee/employer laws, provide decent pay, and all the other benefits that the unions have brought us. This is why they are also call “organized labor.” By organizing into a union and sticking together people have the ability to demand respect and compensation for their work.

There were also some other posts with news about the strike itself.
In the post Why Don’t We Hear About Labor Issues Anymore? I wrote,

A few local TV news broadcasts covered the story, and there were a few newspaper articles announcing that there was going to be a strike. But there was almost no actual coverage of the strike except on progressive sites and labor outlets. What’s up with that?

This is a significant problem with today’s corporate media. There is overwhelming coverage of business issues like the stock market, investment, mergers and CEO personality profiles. There is story after story pushing new products, cars, bigger houses, consumption, even listings of which movies are making more money than other movies – as if that was a concern to ordinary people.
But there is very little coverage of issues that might help regular people live their daily lives. And in particular there is no, none, nada, negatory, zero coverage of ordinary working people fighting back against the corporate domination of our democracy and other decision-making, including the commercialization of everything.
Labor issues are a big part of that equation. Organized labor is the vehicle that enables regular people to fight back against domination by the big corporations. Big corporations are able to aggregate immense wealth and power. Individuals have no change standing against such wealth and power on their own. But banding together they do. And the more that band together, the better the chance to stand up to the wealth and power of the corporations.
But not if people don’t find out that they can’t do this. And that is where the blogs come in. I was able to post the stories about the security guards’ strike at Huffington Post, MyDD, Seeing the Forest, and in DailyKos and Calitics diaries. Other sites like AlterNet picked up these stories and passed them along to their readers. In this way literally millions of people were able to learn about this strike, which helped raise awareness of the situation as well as apply more pressure to Inter-Con, the employer as well as to government agencies responsible for enforcing the labor laws. If stories like this can be kept entirely quiet strikes like this would be completely ineffective. But if the blog-readers and other progressives start demanding that laws be enforced and workers be allowed to organize, we can start to make a difference.
Please visit StandForSecurity.org.
I am proud to be helping SEIU spread the word about this strike. sfs-234x60-animated-v2

The Reach Of Progressive Blogs

What do people “know?” If you are reading this you are probably a hyper-informed citizen. But what about the rest of us? What information reaches the public?
Progressive blogs reach progressives. Right-wing blogs are part of a noise machine that is designed to reach and influence the general public.
Right-wing blogs are tied into the conservative movement’s larger “noise machine” information apparatus. This is why we see successful results when the right launches an information campaign. They echo or are echoed through every channel through which the public receives information — by Limbaugh, Fox News, Drudge, and funded outreach into other channels, and their politicians are part of the coordinated process. So their message gets out there and the public “knows” what they want them to know. A very good example is what happened to Dan Rather. The public “knows” that Dan Rather “tried to smear President Bush” with “forged documents.” In fact the origin of the documents is still unknown, and forged or not, the underlying story was factual.
It would benefit us to keep in mind that progressive blogs have a limited reach and that we need to keep looking to extend that reach. There is no progressive noise machine. There is no coordination. There is no funded outreach to the general public. Democratic politicians likely as not fear blogs and tend not to join in a coordinated messaging efforts. Yes, progressive blogs are read by media figures, informed opinion leaders and public officials, and that is very important. But we have very little effect on what the general public “knows.” Only after shrill repetition for several days or weeks across the entire blogosphere does an important story even begin to reach into the traditional corporate media.
Current example – the prosecutor scandal. On the Heading Left Blog Talk Radio Show last week Nate mentioned that there was wide coverage of the scandal over firing US Attorneys who wouldn’t play ball and drop investigations of Republican corruption or wouldn’t falsely accuse Democrats of crimes. But in my own local paper there was only a short article on page 6, and it repeated verbatim White House talking points that the firings were “handled badly,” that the President “has the right to hire and fire prosecutors,” and that “Clinton fired all 93 prosecutors while Bush fired only 8.”

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It’s Not The Bloggers, It’s The Blogs

A quick comment on all the big-name pundits and Washington insiders who criticize “the bloggers” and question their legitimacy: Anyone can start a blog.
(pause)
Here is what I am saying. When you criticize “the bloggers” and question the legitimacy of what they are saying, you are questioning the concept of democracy itself. ANYone can start a blog — so everyone is a blogger. If it makes you uncomfortable that the rabble is allowed to speak and express their opinions you need to think about your own understanding of and commitment to democracy. The blogs that reach prominence do so through an entirely democratic process – people have chosen to read or echo what is being written on them.
It’s not the bloggers you have a beef with, it’s the blogs themselves — the tool that lets the public have a say.