In recent days, The Washington Times and the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review published op-eds by members of the Heritage Foundation containing the false claim that union autoworkers earn $75 an hour in wages and benefits. In fact, according to General Motors, these claims are based not only on current workers' hourly wages and benefits, such as health care and retirement, but also retirement and health-care benefits that U.S. automakers are providing for current retirees.
Fox News hosts, reporters, and contributors have repeatedly provided or echoed the claims of only opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act, which would give workers the right to form or join a union if a majority of workers sign a card stating they want to unionize. Absent from numerous reports and discussions on Fox News is the argument made by proponents of EFCA that under the current system, employers often fire union supporters and pressure employees to vote against unionizing.
Lars Larson responded to a November 22 Media Matters item by misrepresenting what he had said five days before about autoworkers' hourly compensation. Larson claimed on November 24, "[T]hey [Media Matters] were saying that if you count just what is being paid to the worker and to his pension and for his medical care, that it doesn't add up to $73 an hour and they're right, but that's not what I said. I said that the total cost of having that worker on the assembly line is over $73 an hour." In fact, as Media Matters documented, Larson falsely claimed on November 19 that American automakers are "paying $73.73 an hour to those people with salary and benefits."
On Hardball, guest host Mike Barnicle did not challenge the false claim by Republican strategist Todd Harris that union autoworkers earn "70, $75 an hour," a claim also recently made on Hardball by a Heritage Foundation fellow and echoed by host Chris Matthews.
MSNBC's Mika Brzezinski falsely claimed that "the average Big Three automaker union worker's compensation is $73/hour -- two and a half times the average for the taxpayer being asked to bail them out." In fact, the $73 figure includes not only future retirement benefits for current workers, but also benefits paid to current retirees, according to GM.
Several media outlets have used data that combines the average cost of current wages and benefits and future benefits to falsely assert or suggest that autoworkers make $70 or more per hour. But, as analysts and some media outlets have noted, the figure includes not only future retirement benefits for current workers, but also benefits paid to current retirees.
Neal Boortz asserted that "the single most dangerous entity, group of people in this country right now are the teachers unions," adding that "[t]hey do more damage to this country than all the drug pushers together. ... If I had a button right now, two buttons -- push this button and it gets rid of all the drug dealers; push this button, it gets rid of the teachers unions -- I'm getting rid of the teachers unions."
On his CNN Headline News program, Glenn Beck repeatedly suggested that the top Democratic presidential candidates have not shown support for the ongoing Writers Guild strike. In fact, all of the Democratic front-runners have expressed support for the striking writers. John Edwards joined them on a Los Angeles picket line, and Sens. Barack Obama and Hillary Rodham Clinton each issued statements of support for the writers. The candidates also withdrew from a planned December 10 CBS News debate, forcing its cancellation.
In a report on Michigan's auto industry, correspondent Trace Gallagher of The Fox Report with Shepard Smith stated: "With the 1930s came men like Jimmy Hoffa and the labor movement -- organization by way of strikes, votes, violence." Gallagher did not note the rights that the labor movement secured for workers in Michigan.
A New York Times article documented a recent rift between employers and labor unions over a unionizing method that uses "card checks" instead of secret ballot elections. The Times included comments from Richard Berman, the founder of the anti-union organization, the Center for Union Facts; however, it did not mention Berman's history of lobbying for the restaurant and beverage industry or his support for and involvement in controversial campaigns.