Toledo Blade Calls Violent Union Mob “Mostly Peaceful”
The Toledo Blade described as “mostly peaceful” a December 11 workplace freedom protest in Lansing, Michigan where union members tore down an Americans for Prosperity (AFP) tent and assaulted a conservative reporter. In a December 12 news story, Blade reporter Tyrel Linkhorn downplayed union violence and emphasized union complaints about workplace freedom.
“There was a heavy police presence, but the protests were mostly peaceful. There were a few isolated incidents of clashes between protesters and police,” Linkhorn wrote. At no point did the Blade story acknowledge that reporter Steven Crowder was physically assaulted by a union protester.
Crowder was one of several conservatives on the scene who filmed union members tearing down an AFP Michigan tent the group had obtained a permit to place outside the statehouse.
Although union protesters can be seen pulling down the the tent in footage from numerous sources posted online since the afternoon of December 11, the Blade story published the morning of December 12 noted, “On the Capitol grounds, a big white tent erected for supporters of the legislation collapsed. There were no injuries, but union protesters reportedly helped bring down the tent.”
In a story purportedly about Governor Rick Snyder signing two “freedom to work” bills passed by Michigan’s Republican-controlled state legislature, the Blade quoted one supporter of workplace freedom and seven supporters of forced unionism.
“This is about freedom, fairness, and equality. These are basic American rights rights that should unite us,” House Speaker Jase Bolger, a Republican, said during debate on the legislation.
The Blade also quoted Bolger as saying Michigan’s future “has never been brighter, because workers are free” following the passage of the workplace freedom bills.
Meanwhile, the Blade quoted union protester Dave Rutz, who said, “They’ve got the hammer and they’re going to beat us with it,” and, “It doesn’t create jobs, it cuts wages. That might create jobs in the long run, but in the short term its not going to create a job. Its going to cut wage and benefits and unfund the only opposition they have.”
The Blade also quoted union protester Tom Mossner, who said, “We dont need this in the state of Michigan. Never did and never will. This is an automotive state. Weve built automobiles here for years and we want to continue doing it at a reasonable pay rate. By letting this go through, the quality of our parts are not going to be as good. Nobodys going to want to work for that kind of money.”
The Blade did not mention that the City of Detroit is going bankrupt, and did not remind readers about the failed bailout of Chrysler and GM which handed the United Auto Workers (UAW) more control over both companies.
The paper did, however, quote UAW Local 723 President Bob Cebina, who said of the protests, “I think it’s great. I’m glad to see the people come out to try to right the wrongdoing by our legislature.”
The Blade also published Cebina’s opinion of the legislative process leading to Michigan becoming a workplace freedom state. “It was a sham. It was wrong for them to do it without any discussion or tabling it until they had time to discuss it. There were better ways of doing this.”
Linkhorn quoted teachers union member Amy Kotsch, who said, “If theyre going to be really representing the people of Michigan, they need to understand how many people do believe in the power of the union and think thats an important right we have.”
Workplace freedom in no way reduces any worker’s collective bargaining privileges. No clarification of that fact was included in the Blade’s story.
After noting that some schools closed because so many teachers were attending the December 11 protests, the Blade quoted Mike Ingels, another teacher. “Theyre trying to destroy the opposition. This is not anything more than that. They have an advantage, they can do it, they can kill the opposition. Thats what theyre trying to do. But Im not planning to leave,” Ingels said.
The Blade quoted protester Kirk Newland, who said, “We just want our voices to be heard. The way they did it is my biggest problem. They locked the doors and put it through a lame duck congress. Why not do it out in the open. We can vote on whether we can use medical marijuana in Michigan, but we cant vote on this.”
In closing, Linkhorn quoted Michigan Representative Tim Greimel, a Democrat who said the supporters of workplace freedom “will be held accountable at the ballot box in 2014.”
In a December 11 Blade story about the Ohioans for Workplace Freedom campaign, Columbus bureau chief Jim Provance quoted one campaign spokesman, a union boss opposed to workplace freedom, and a Democrat state representative opposed to workplace freedom.
Provance not-so-subtly assisted union efforts to tie workplace freedom to Senate Bill 5, which was overturned in 2011 following a $40 million smear campaign from We Are Ohio – a union front group treated as a grassroots campaign committee by the Blade and other Ohio media outlets.