Conservatives Use Blizzard to Plow Ahead with Anti-Labor Agenda

Tuesday, January 04, 2011 - 09:07 AM

A snow plow in Brooklyn can't get passed parked cars in Brooklyn, days after the city's bungled response to the Christmas-week blizzard. (Azi Paybarah / wnyc)

You have to hand it to the right-wing: they stick to their principles — at least when it comes to the principle of detesting organized labor. The conservative War Against Work rarely misses an opportunity to blame unionized workers for something, regardless of the truth.

Following our recent blizzard in New York, the conservative messaging machine spewed so much hot air, I’m surprised it didn’t help melt the snow.

We New Yorkers know what happened.  A monstrous blizzard hit us hard and fast. City officials may have made some poor choices as the storm approached. Entire neighborhoods experienced unplowed roads and rising anger, as the Department of Sanitation scrambled to get the city up and running again.  And the mayor held himself accountable for the poor response.

Yet if you were watching Fox News, you’d think that sanitation workers sinisterly planned an intentional slow-down to teach their fellow New Yorkers a lesson. While Fox’s website reports the other side – that the Commissioner of Sanitation and President of the Sanitation Officers Association both saw no evidence of this – their on-screen interview with New York Council Member Dan Halloran wasn’t quite as “fair and balanced.”

Now, how often does a New York City Council member get on Fox News? What would catapult a local elected official – one of 51 – to this national platform?  Fox’s lead source in this story was its fellow Murdoch-owned enterprise, The New York Post, which feigned no moderation with its headline: “Sanitation Department’s slow snow cleanup was a budget protest.” It’s incredible that the byline credits three reporters for an article with only one source: the Council Member, who bases his assertions on unnamed sanitation workers who never spoke to the reporters.

This style of “journalism” is no surprise to anyone who follows the mayhem manufactured by Murdoch media. What may be surprising to New Yorkers is that they aimed their punch at such a local target. This, however, returns to the point that the right-wing is disciplined — and when it comes to attacking organized labor, no target is too local.

This trumped-up story gave the conservative echo chamber what they wanted: a chance to blame working Americans. The statements by the mayor and commissioner accepting responsibility and dismissing this story are irrelevant to those who want to wage war against an organized workforce. Conservatives have no trouble plowing right through contrary evidence, which for them is an inconvenient obstacle in their crusade.

They are so good at plowing ahead, we should have asked them to staff a few of our trucks.

In the season of budget cuts and deficit paranoia, many politicians of all stripes will push back on organized labor – including our new Democratic Governor who made one of his first acts to declare wage freezes for public sector employees.  In doing so, he only followed the path of our Democratic President, who saw this move as a symbol of his seriousness about restraining spending. And there are plenty of places where unions can be a partner in boosting productivity, holding down overtime outlays and stimulating our economy.

But when you hear these stories coming out of Fox and the Post, you know it’s not about reasonable reforms. It’s part of their national agenda against workers. Let’s hope that we New Yorkers know better than to fall for this snow job.

Justin Krebs is a political organizer and writer based in New York City. He is the founder of Living Liberally, a nationwide network of 250 local clubs that create social events around progressive politics, and author of "538 Ways to Live, Work and Play Like a Liberal."


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Comments [6]

Shay from PA

Oh please, this is stupid. My dad and I were out driving around in that blizzard, we saw the plows refusing to do their work.
They all had the blades up high above road level.
I also run with a fire department, nobody could get through because those lazy people refused to do their jobs.
People died in that storm because emergency vehicles couldn't get through.
I hope you're all happy, defending lazy slugs who let folks die because they just didn't feel like it.

Jan. 13 2011 06:52 AM
Loony from Da Bronx, No Thonx

We are curious why people aren't talking more about the garbage pickup issue. The NYT is urging residents to take photos of pileups. Quick, get those photos! What about the indefinite suspension of recycling? How does this fit in to the plan? Sounds like whoever runs this operation is "stealing time from a faulty plan." Here's our humble contribution to the cyberdiscussion:

Jan. 05 2011 12:38 AM
Harry Waisbren

I couldn't agree more that Fox News' "journalism" for this pathetically trumped-up story was basically an excuse to give "the conservative echo chamber what they wanted: a chance to blame working Americans."

Fox News loves to blame the little guy and defend the mega-wealthy whenever they get a chance. Funny how that works...and frightening that anyone remotely considers what they do to be journalism.

Jan. 04 2011 04:01 PM
Karol from NYC

The problem for unions, of course, is that this time it's not just conservatives doing the criticizing. The public is turning on unions, rightfully, because while the country is struggling unions are refusing to budge on previously made raise agreements. This latest disaster with the snow is just the final straw. People have had enough.

Jan. 04 2011 12:27 PM
Charles from Williamsburg

Krebs is spot on. I'm all in favor of going after lazy workers, but not organized labor. Fox is just anti-labor.

Jan. 04 2011 12:14 PM
Ben from Park Slope

Oh please. I'm a Liberal and I can't read your writing as anything other than hot air.

There are some very hard working public employee union members out there. They should be thanked and rewarded. There are also some lazy folks out there not working as hard. And there is a vast public pension crisis looming on the horizon, that needs to be dealt with and which will cause pain for all sectors in the public sphere.

Perhaps the Sanitation "work slowdown" was a lie. Or perhaps it was true. But it certainly should be investigated and, if anyone really did it, it's a great opportunity to fire those responsible and take their pensions away.

Jan. 04 2011 10:13 AM

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