The following is an editorial in the Union Producers and Programmers
Fall 2004 Newsletter.
Labor Media And The AFL-CIO Debate
THE ONGOING DEBATE IN the AFL-CIO about the future direction of labor and
how it is going to survive will be limited unless it includes the issue of a
labor media strategy that involves all forms of media and how to use it in
the battles against union busting multi-nationals and the governments they
After spending over $200 million dollar on the this year's election cycle,
the AFL-CIO and it's affiliates have nothing concrete to show for it. It has
no labor tv channel, no labor radio channel, no national labor newspaper and
no plan on how to challenge the corporate media as well as the corporate
dominated PBS which millions of our members contribute to with their tax
UPPNET has fought since it's inception in 1989 not only to support labor
media on tv, radio and the internet but also to develop a labor media
movement based not only on the institutional structures of labor but on the
rank and file.
Labor needs to train tens of thousands of unionists in locals throughout the
country to produces labor tv and radio programming on community access tv,
the internet and community radio stations.
We need to develop a plan of action to protest anti-labor stories by the
corporate media and PBS/NPR and to demand that labor get regular programming
on PBS/NPR like business gets.
How about a labor perspective on the economic news every day on tv and radio
that can be listened to by millions.
Every local should have a media committee that supports the training of
members on how to use a video camera, edit and get it on the web and how to
post pictures and articles on indymedia web sites around the country and
Labor cannot rely on public relations firms to tell it's story. They cost
too much and they negate the need to train rank and file workers to start
to tell the stories themselves and use new communication technology to get
it out throughout the country. Only an engaged rank and file labor media
movement can put the punch into a real media campaign.
We have supported annual Labortech conferences www.labortech2004.org as a
means to develop our skills and to educate labor about corporate mediam how
they control the agenda and how to challenge them. As we all know if you are
not on tv today you are marginalized since most workers get their
information from TV in the United States and most industrialized countries.
We can learn an important lesson from the Korean labor movement where
hundreds of labor videos are being streamed by nearly all the major unions
and thousands of rank and file Korean workers are being trained to do their
We have supported the proposal of CFT Communications Director Fred Glass
that regional labor media centers be set up around the country to help do
the training and help broadcast their stories. If the AFL-CIO had put aside
$5 to $10 million of the money it spent on the last election cycle these
labor media centers could be up and running around the country.
The technology is in place now for 24 hour labor tv and labor radio
programming in English, Chinese and Spanish to reach millions of workers in
The UPPNET supported initiative of WINS, the Workers Independent News
Service www.laborradio.org is an important and historic step and it should
just be the beginning but it has yet to be fully supported by locals and
internationals that need to break the media blockade.
We need in depth documentaries on tv and radio on the attack on pensions
using the bankruptcy laws and the effort to end all defined pension
programs. We need documentaries on the effects of deregulation and
privatization and the war against labor's right to organize with case
studies. Many independent producers are working night and day to get these
docs out but they need help. Many such as "Thirst" on water privatization,
"The Corporation" need to be shown in every city in the country.
We need labor festivals in every city of the country that will have labor
film and video festivals that present this rich material to workers and the
millions of unorganized.
This material will not be provided by corporate media and their bosses who
want to hide these stories.
It is up to us in labor to develop this labor agenda to go on the offensive
The failure to include this in the growing debate within organized labor is
something we cannot afford.
If you agree with this agenda and some of the proposals please contact us.
We want to build support for them at the AFL-CIO convention this coming July
UPPNET News is the publication of Union Producers and Programmers Network
(Promoting production and use of tv and radio shows pertinent to the cause
of organized labor and working people)