Workers are the people who are in need of finding a job and create income for themselves and their families to survive. Workers, in general, are weak economically and financially; and, because of this, they become against weak companies in negotiating over work conditions, payment and making work contracts.
There are many factors determining the power of the labor unions: legal regulations, support by public, media support, social and cultural background in a country, and many others. Each country has different regulations about labor rights and labor unions. In the developed countries, being a member of a labor union is mostly promoted by the legal regulations, however, developing and less developed countries need cheaper labor force, and because of that, mostly workers do not get what they would like to have due to the legal regulations. Public support is very essential for the labor unions. If public is aware of labor rights, it will be harder for the workplaces to push conditions socially not unaccepted. Also cultural and social settings of a country also are among the important determinants of the labor unions' force.
Media is a power in every country. Media has tools which influence society everyday such as newspapers, journals, magazines, television and radio channels. Media mostly belongs to rich people who owns large companies in the country. Similar to unions among workers, companies also have unions to create a monopoly power on country government. Another essential point about rich people, they mostly have cooperations or business relations with the multinational companies which have a power to change legal regulations for their favor in the developing and less developed countries. Subsequently, we can say that media has power to change settings in any country.
Media and Labor Relations
Labor unions have had a long and complicated relation for a long time. Labor unions want everybody to hear their voice and media is the only tool to reach this objective. Media ethics also claims that media should socially responsible and help weak people disseaminate their situations to all public. Basically thinking will tell us that media is supposed to support labor rights and labor unions.
Media includes many institutions and most of them belongs to private large companies and in some countries some of them belongs to state. Considering the ownership of the media institutions, it is not possible to expect that media will support workers on their struggle against employer companies. In developing countries, state televisions and radios are expected to serve public, however, many multinational companies are operating in these countries and imultinational companies do not want labor rights to be developed to keep wages lower as one of the main components of their cost items.
Subsequently, we can claim that media is mostly in favor of companies and does not provide a noticeable support to the workers and their labor unions. Actually, labor unions are blamed by the media. There are some reasons behind this blaming: 1) Labor unions promote unproductivity, 2) To be competitive in international markets, a country always needs lower wages, 3) Labor unions do not really represent workers, 4) Unions use workers' money and it is possible to have misuse of resources in unions, 5) Union leaders generally use union power for their sakes, 6) Workers are more well educated in our modern time, and they can find better ways than forming unions, 7) Unions might cause chaos in society, and 8) Unions, in general, have corruptions.
These factors might lead us to think that labor unions are functioning well and it is better to transform labor unions into another form with different organization and settings. There are many studies in the literature on the inefficiency problem of the labor unions. We can find more evidence on this in the developing countries. In China, Russia and some other Eastern Europe countries, the labor unions' strikes have caused chaoses and many people died during these strikes.
In the light of the factors mentioned in the pharagraph above, media will not support labor unions, and furthermore, labor union news will not be reported in newspapers, televions and radios. Some studies show that international news channels, newspapers, journals, and magazines gives a small place for workers' struggles.
Also when a report is given in a publication, mostly the publication provides a logic that companies are doing what they are supposed to do, however, maybe a small favor should be given to workers. Especially, in the developed countries, people assumes that labor unions are a part of leftist movement or labor unions support socialist ideas. As we know socialism is not a system approved by the people in the developed Western countries. Media has created a socialist image for the labor unions and that makes it much harder for the labor unions to get social approval. In the developing countries, companies and governments use media to make people believe that labor unions will bring more strikes, chaos and less productivity to their countries. Especially, after the chaotic times, media in short term blames policemen, government etc., however, in the long term, media blames workers to be impatient and violent.
Media Coverage of Labor Unions
The media, in general, ignores labor and labor unions and the media has created a negative look for the labor unions. Many young workers who have just joined the work force do not have a clear information about labor unions, and most of them try to stay away from labor unions thanks to the negative image of the labor unions created by the media. Federico Subervi has studied on media coverage of labor unions and he accessed three years (2008, 2009 and 2010) news channels such as ABC, CBS, CNN and some other large media institutions to see how media presents labor unions to the public.
Labor unions are not promoted by the governments, education system, and media. Generally, a negative appearance has created for the labor unions by the media and education system. This situation have been created by two strategies of the media: 1) Passivist approach in conveying real labor union and workers' struggles and 2) Implying negative factors about labor unions and labor movements by providing a historical background of labor unions.
The media claims that legal regulations provide rights for the labor and it is unnecessary to go on strikes. Following this claim, the media also implies that strikes bring us a chaotic political environment. Many developing countries have suffered because of labor strikes and even many people have died during these strikes. Because of this, many parents give advice to their children to stay away from the labor unions. The labor unions in the developing countries are assigned as the meeting place where very marginal leftist people come together.
Another very strong claim is that labor unions are places where their managers cause corruptions. It is an emotional point that saying labor unions managers are stealing workers' subscription fees. This emotional approach creates a very strong emotional bad look for the public.
Another important reflection of the labor unions in the media is unproductivity caused by the labor unions. Even in the U.S., many people believes that the labor unions protect unproductive workers and thus they promote unproductivity in the country. Unproductivity is one of the big sins in the developed countries.
Consequently, media is a tool used by the large multinational companies with their local partners and these companies are looking for lower cost environments in the other countries. Lower cost environment in our modern time means lower wages and less social rights for the workers. These companies will continue this strategy because strong labor unions might create higher costs of production for them.
Labor unions, to be stronger, need new ways to convey their news to public and recently they have an opportunity for this: Social Media. Social medis is mostly lead by people and it has a large influence on the society. Labor unions should learn how to use social media and make their news by themselves.
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