It’s a truism of politics that the people, parties, or organizations you choose to support will inevitably do something to betray your trust. Regardless of partisan allegiances or mission statements, the intersection of money, opinion, and cause is always a messy one, fraught with missteps and gaffes and broken promises. However, knowing this does little to remove the sting of betrayal felt when those whom you admire and support take actions you find antithetical. This holds even more true when the guilty parties stand on a platform of pointing out hypocrisy and double standards; take Media Matters For America (MM4A), a company whose actions in recent weeks have been as shocking as they are harmful to progressive credibility.
Not much media attention has been given to MM4A’s recent stymieing of union negotiations between management officials and the SEIU, which is rather surprising when you consider how much the corporate media loves to uphold the principle that “both sides do it.” MM4A has been at the forefront of exposing conservative propaganda and rhetoric for years now, and have proven themselves to be a staunchly pro-labor advocate. It’s not unreasonable to believe that the company would be all too eager to roll out the red carpet for union representatives, if for no other reason than to give them an excuse to polish off their pro-labor bona fides. Their actions to the contrary merit genuine concern, if not alarm.
At the same time, I’ll not give in to pro-labor hyperbole at this point and claim that MM4A is an anti-union shop. Statements from higher-ups within MM4A indicate that the organization appear to support the idea of unionizing, qualifying their assurances with all of the usual noises about “making sure the process is really clean” and ensuring that they “comply with all necessary laws and procedures.” But the nonprofit’s refusal to grant immediate card-check union recognition–often seen as a litmus test for progressive ideals in companies such as these–is rather telling about where management’s loyalties lie.
Given the nature of their political affiliations, MM4A simply can’t refuse unionization outright; to do so would utterly destroy their reputation, and likely force them out of business. What they can do, however, is drag things out long enough to give them time to “delay the proceedings, bring in union-busting consultants and pressure workers to vote down the union,” according to the Huffington Post, all under the guise of transparency and accountability. Whether they’ll do exactly that is uncertain, and will likely depend on how much public scrutiny they receive during the negotiation process. In the interest of avoiding scandal, it seems unlikely that they will do anything flatly controversial; they’ve made their liberal bed, and they have to lie in it, meaning that the employees of MM4A will almost certainly get their union. They’ll just get the union that management believes they deserve, and not much else.