Wash Post Busted Pressmen’s Union in 1975 Strike. Why It Still Matters Today.

On what would have been former Washington Post publisher Katharine Graham’s 100th birthday in June, the Post ran a story that continues the paper’s decades-long effort to rewrite the history of the 1975 pressmen’s strike. This article is in response to the Post story.

Katharine Graham addresses the Post newsroom at start of pressmen strike. Photo: Washington Post

Katharine Graham addresses the Post newsroom during pressmen strike. Photo: Washington Post

“Never pick a fight with someone who buys ink by the barrel,” Mark Twain advised. In 1975, a hard-nosed union did just that – and lost.

On the face of it, it appeared the 200 pressmen from Local 6 of the Newspaper and Graphic Communications Union had some advantages. They were, after all, the ones who turned those barrels of ink into the printed pages of The Washington Post. It was dirty, dangerous work but it gave the Post’s pressmen leverage: if they went out on strike there’d be no newspaper.

Much to the chagrin of Post management, the pressmen – who were located in the basement of the old Post building blocks from the White House – didn’t just use this leverage to improve their own lot, but also that of the newspaper’s other unions.

“The pressmen, particularly, were giving us a lot of problems,” Post publisher Katharine Graham wrote in her Pulitzer Prize-winning memoirs. “What it came down to was that, after years of concessions to their union… of surrenderings in order to avoid a strike at all costs, we were no longer in control of our own pressroom.”

“They had a feeling of immense power down there,” said Lawrence Wallace, who led the Post’s negotiations with its labor unions. “Everything that is produced here in the newsroom, in advertising, funnels right down over that folder on that press.”

Wallace was brought to the Post as a get-tough-on-the-unions guy in 1973, two years after the newspaper went public, which would prove a turning point. 

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As Uber’s Troubles Grow, Post Fails to Disclose Owner’s Ties to Ride-Hailing Giant

Creative Commons via DonkeyHotey

Creative Commons via DonkeyHotey

(This story was published at Washington City Paper.)

Editor Marty Baron says he doesn’t know whether Bezos is still an investor.

A review of Washington Post articles on Uber from this year—during which damning revelations about the company came in waves—shows that the paper is informing readers infrequently, and not at all in the past four months, that Post owner Jeff Bezos was, and presumably still is, an Uber investor.

It’s all but inevitable that the Post will cover stories involving companies connected to Bezos, who’s the founder and CEO of Amazon and now the second-richest person alive. The paper has set a high bar for disclosure when it comes to covering Amazon, routinely informing readers of Bezos’ ties to the online retail giant. And when it comes to Uber, as recently as last year the Post regularly disclosed the Bezos connection.

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If You Saw Uber’s CEO Testify Before the DC Council, His Downfall May Come as No Surprise

Kalanick testifies before DC Council

Kalanick testifies before DC Council

Travis Kalanick is out. The 40-year-old Uber CEO resigned Tuesday as the ride-hailing giant faces crises on multiple fronts and investors called for a change in leadership.

Kalanick, who co-founded Uber, will likely continue to be involved with the company due to his control over substantial voting shares. But Kalanick, and his rules-be-damned approach, will no longer be leading Uber, now valued at close to $70 billion.

For many Kalanick’s sudden departure may come as a shock. But for those who watched him testify before the DC Council five years ago, the only wonder may be that he lasted this long.

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How Change Happens: 18 Acts of Resistance

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“People say slavery is done… [but] it’s still there – in the corner,” says Gulnahar Alam, a domestic worker who, like many others, suffered workplace abuses. To combat this exploitation, often hidden away in employers’ homes, Alam began organizing. “People feel very powerful and so much more confident when they see that they are not alone. They no longer feel ashamed.”

Alam’s story is one of 18 brought to life in Shifting the Universe: Spoken Histories of Work & Resistance by first-time author Candace Wolf.

Professionally, Wolf is a storyteller; she’s also a keen listener. And from 2010-2015 she carved out time to hear the stories of regular people – from different walks of life and parts of the globe – who, despite serious challenges, evolve into troublemakers of the best kind.

The book couldn’t come at a better time. Amidst today’s political chaos, as President Trump stumbles towards possible impeachment, Wolf’s book offers a longer view.

“The long memory is the most radical idea in America. That long memory has been taken away from us,” said the late folk singer Utah Phillips, who Wolf quotes. “We’re being leapfrogged from one crisis to the next. You can’t remember what happened last week because you’re locked into this week’s crisis.”

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We May Be Headed to War. Thank the Media.

commondreams.org

commondreams.org

The media has boxed President Trump into a corner and his only way out may be through war.

Measured at this point in his term, 100 days in, Trump is the least liked president since modern polling began. Right from the start, his failing administration has been thrashed by the media, and for good reason. For Trump, who’s as thin-skinned and self-absorbed as they come, this is intolerable. He’s got to change the narrative.

It turns out that’s not hard to do: just bomb a country. Then suddenly the TV talking heads, who Trump watches all day, magically switch from thrashing to fawning.

For Trump, this adulation is a shot of adrenaline straight to the heart, and there’s little chance he’s not coming back for more.

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A Must-Read in Trying Times: Chomsky’s ‘Requiem for the American Dream’

Screen shot from trailer for "Requiem for the American Dream"

Screen shot from trailer for “Requiem for the American Dream”

Hopefully we’ll make it out the other side of Trump’s presidency, but it’s by no means a sure thing. The risks are hard to overstate.

While many books attempt to explain how we got to this political moment (some successfully), Noam Chomsky’s latest, Requiem for the American Dream, provides necessary historical context.

Zooming in on ten ways that government and corporate interests have kept the American people down, Chomsky offers a compelling history that explains today’s economic and political landscape.

At 157 pages, it’s a short, beautifully put together book. Based on a 2015 documentary of the same name, the book was created and edited by the team behind the film (which is widely available, including on Netflix).

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Push for War Highlights Need for Independent Media

Credit: fair.org

Credit: fair.org

If the corporations that own the media profit from war, we’re unlikely to see peace.

That’s what Lewis Hill foresaw. It’s what led him to create the independent, listener-sponsored Pacifica Radio.

Almost 70 years later, the corporate media is still busy selling war, at times to an embarrassing degree. This can be seen in the fawning coverage of the recent U.S. attack on Syria, which came in response to the Syrian government’s alleged use of chemical weapons.

“I’m guided by the beauty of our weapons,” gushed MSNBC anchor Brian Williams, as his station showed “beautiful pictures” of the U.S. Navy launching a missile attack on a Syrian airfield.

Those beautiful missiles killed 16 people, including four kids, according to the Syrian government. But these deaths were of little interest to a corporate media caught up in the excitement of it all.

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How The Media Paved the Way for Trump’s Attack on Syria

credit: commondreams.org

credit: commondreams.org

Syrian President Bashar al-Assad may be responsible for the recent and gruesome chemical attack in his country. That may be what a thorough investigation concludes.

Until then, asking the tough questions seems wise, even as cruise missiles have already fallen on Syria.

But reporters, even prior to Thursday’s U.S. missile attack on Syria, weren’t entertaining such questions. That was visible in a contentious exchange Wednesday between CNN host Kate Bolduan and Rep. Thomas Massie, who questioned what Assad’s motive for launching the chemical attack would be.

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Backed by $10 million in ‘Dark Money,’ Gorsuch Claims He’s Apolitical

Screen Shot 2017-03-25 at 1.55.12 PMIn hours of testimony before the Senate Judiciary Committee, Judge Neil Gorsuch, President Trump’s pick for the Supreme Court, repeatedly claimed to be above the political fray.

“I can’t get involved in politics,” Gorsuch said again and again.

Yet as he ducked senators’ questions, a multi-million dollar campaign backing Gorsuch’s nomination was underway.

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Democrats and The Resistance

Ellison and Perez (common dreams.org)

Ellison and Perez (common dreams.org)

Donald Trump is president and Republicans control just about everything.

Meanwhile Democratic Party leaders who paved the way for this Republican resurgence seem to view themselves as natural leaders in the fight against Trump, known as the “Resistance.”

But are they up to the challenge?

Recall how badly they screwed up in 2016.

In capturing the Republican nomination, Trump became the most disliked presidential nominee in recent times.

This presented Democrats with an opportunity to not only keep the White House, but also make big gains in the House and Senate.

Instead Democrats rigged their own primaries, allowing Trump to face the second most-disliked nominee in recent times, Hillary Clinton.

Now the folks who helped pull this off want to lead the Resistance.

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