When Headlines Attack!

Continuing our occasional examination of how newspaper headlines are used to advance an editor or publisher’s political agenda

On the front page of today’s Oregonian, topping an otherwise relatively balanced article about an upcoming unionization vote at Precision Castparts, is this doozy:

"Union Time"

“Union time” alarms Precision

Most of the article is about the various reasons that workers at Precision Castparts have expressed for organizing a union drive, which even the company’s execs have partially recognized are valid:

This time, complaints center on forced overtime, arbitrary policy and benefits changes, and the tone-deaf communications that (subsidiary executive Kevin) Stein acknowledges.

The article also includes reporting on some of the union-busting tactics that Precision Castparts is using–including, notably, hiring The Burke Group, the notorious union-busting firm. Coincidentally (?), The Burke Group  was also hired by Oregonian publisher N. Christian Anderson to bust up union efforts at his previous paper, The Orange County Register.

In selecting this particular headline, the editors at the Oregonian chose to highlight one small piece of the story (executives’ panic over the possibility that workers might be able to level the playing field), instead of what the story is actually about–workers fed up with conditions and trying to do something about it.

In doing so, the editors appear to be trying to advance the fear-based tactics that Precision Castparts executives are using.

Interestingly, the headline given to the online edition of this story is far more balanced–and far more reflective of the actual story: “Precision Castparts, workers prepare for landmark Machinists union vote this week.”

15 Responses to “When Headlines Attack!”

  1. Charles

    Good luck to the workers in their attempt to organize and join a union. Of course we can expect management to fear their workers unionizing, management will have to be respectful of the contract and treat workers with respect. Precision Castparts has always paid their managers well above their non-management workers, no matter how important the worker’s job is to production.

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  2. Charles

    The Oregonian’s owner and editors have always been anti-union. They are the “Fox News” of Pacific Northwest newspapers, that’s why I won’t subscribe to their anti-worker rag.

  3. Deanna Woods

    Union-busting is a business, using tactics that essentially are immoral to dissuade workers from voting for their own best interests, as well as the busineses they work for, in the long run. It’s so dirty a business that there’s a classic book out about it, “Confessions of a Union Buster,” the true account of a man who couldn’t take the duplicity any more. What the Oregonian is doing here is one of the many, many tactics used to smear unions, which research over decades–including international studies–show to be essential to a healthy democracy.

  4. Ricky Coleman

    I’m for unbiased reporting and I support unions as basically how to keep owners from quashing workers’ rights. These headlines and stories have not been what I would call unbiased. For a minute I thought I was back in Idaho.

  5. Lew

    I have a thought. If you don’t like where you work go some where else. Assuming that you are a highly competent employee with a great work ethic and a superior attitude finding other employment will be a piece of cake.

    • Steven Amick

      Hmmnn… Sounds familiar: Don’t you really mean, “Let them eat cake?”

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