Some weeks back, a nonscientific poll indicated that Bay Area residents by a 2-1 margin thought Bart management has done a better job in the media of getting across its point of view than have Bart workers. Most self-respecting pollsters, of course, have not touched the Bart issue because there is so little public information available for poll subjects to form a reliable opinion.
The corporate media has used the results of the nonscientific poll to opine that the Bay Area public does not support Bart's workers. And, predictably, there are ignorant readers who have jumped on the corporate media's bandwagon.
Since the labor dispute began, about all we can say with confidence is that the corporate media, not surprisingly, has shown a propensity to side with BART management. For example, the corporate media has consistently printed that BART workers pay a mere $92 a month for healthcare, and this despite Bart workers' counterclaims that they pay $184.00 per month; the corporate media has consistently printed that Bart workers earn approx. $79,000.00 as average annual wage, despite Bart workers' counterclaims that they in fact gross an average of $66,000.00 per year.
Nowhere, too, has the corporate media mentioned how in the 1980s BART workers agreed to management’s request that the employer take on a 7 percent employee contribution to the pension in lieu of pay raises -- an agreement that has saved the public hundreds of millions of dollars.
What is most interesting about the disparity between management and workers' contrary claims is that the corporate media has neither printed the disparity, nor has it made any effort to dispute the claims of one side or another. Why? There are several reasons:
First, were the corporate media to actually print Bart workers' counterclaims, they'd be implanting dissonance among the reading public which, instead of only getting one side's "facts," would then be faced with considering two quite different presentations of reality.
Second, by actually printing Bart workers' counterclaims, the corporate media would be validating a side in the dispute that the corporate media has consistently devalued throughout: in short, by printing the workers' claims, workers would be given a voice that thus far has been suppressed.
Third, by actually printing BART workers' counterclaims, there would be an ethical obligation on the part of the media to investigate the disparity of claims between management and workers. Does anyone doubt that this has not already been done?
By critically investigating the contradictory claims between management and workers, corporate media would likely find themselves in a position of (1) having to verify the workers' claims and (2) by so doing, they'd have to reveal that Bart management has been lying to the public and (3) that the corporate media has been aiding and abetting those lies.
We know, given how the corporate media have sided with Bart management, that IF workers' claims could be proven demonstrably false they would have been by now. And why haven't they been shown to be such? Because they are not false.
Until the corporate media can present reliable information about matters of average wage, health benefits, and the like, the public will continue to be ill-informed -- something that corporate media desires of us all and continues to perpetuate, particularly when matters pertain to labor's gallant efforts to stand up for all of America's workers.