On yesterday's Morning Joe, the New York Times' Andrew Ross Sorkin started a wee bit of a kerfuffle when he followed up a Jim Cramer "card-check-will-brutally-murder-the-American-Dream-in-cold-blood" rantlet by saying:
Name a successful unionized company. Think. You're going to go to [commercial] break before you come up with one. And that's the problem.
Ahh. So much has changed over at Morning Joe. Why back in the day, you could count on MSNBC's crack troupe of commedia dell'arte performers to blaze an uncontroversial path. They'd sit back, tell you what you need to know about vibrators, and talk about what a wonderful company this "General Electric" place was.
General Electric, of course, is a unionized company. And, naturally, Sorkin's admonition that one couldn't name a successful unionized company ended up saying more about the relative intelligence of the people in the room than it did the relative success of unions. I'm obviously excepting any of the union camera operators, who continued to magnanimously succeed at shooting the show after being described as dead weight.
Anyway, since then, it's been pointed out that there are actually quite a few successful unionized companies. Here's a nice long list! And, as Matt Yglesias points out, "It's worth noting as well that all of Americans' major professional sports teams are unionized, that the entertainment industry is very heavily unionized, much of the telecom sector is unionized, Safeway where I buy my groceries is unionized, etc." I'd also point out that in their spare time, union workers are pulling off successful water landings and rescues and fending off pirates.
Well, as you might expect, t'wasn't long before Sorkin had to come and walk it all on back! Responding to TPM's Brian Beutler, Sorkin provided what Matt from 1115.org calls a "straight-up non-apology apology.":
I did not mean to suggest that there are literally no successful companies that employ union workers. Of course there are! Your readers have provided a good list (though I might quibble with some of the names.)
I made the unscripted comment with my financial columnist hat on in the context of the problems at GM. That's what the discussion was about on the program. And when you look at some of the once great iconic American industries that have faltered -- automobiles, airlines, steel, apparel, etc -- there is a fair question worth asking about whether those industries were helped or hurt by their unions. But let's leave that debate for another day.
OF COURSE! However did we manage to incorrectly infer that when Sorkin said, "Name a successful unionized company. Think. You're going to go to [commercial] break before you come up with one. And that's the problem," somehow he was suggesting that there "are literally no successful companies that employ union workers." Obviously, Sorkin was musing, existentially, on the temporal pressures of impending commercial breaks!
Anyway, I happen to have one of those "financial columnist hats" with me, so let's see what happens when I put it on my YIPPEE PEANUT BUTTER BANANA PANTZ INVEST HEAVILY IN LEHMAN BROTHERS LICKETY LICKETY LICKETY KNOB--*removes hat*
Wow! Those things really do make you sound like a complete dumbass!
PREVIOUSLY, on the HUFFINGTON POST:
Art Levine: While "Morning Joe" Crew Says All Unionized Business Fail, 1,000 Execs Endorse Pro-Union Bill