The Daily Fishwrap’s Logan Jenkins is one of their “columnists” who is supposed to put a human “spin” on the news. His take for Labor Day this year was one of the most uninformed and deliberately misleading columns I’ve read in a long time in the Union-Tribune. You have to go back to the early Copley days of the paper to find these kinds of distortions passed off as news.
Entitled “We’re a long way from the Labor Day of the Spreckels era”, the column starts out by purporting to tell us about how tough things were for organized labor 99 years ago, when the Industrial Workers of the World (Wobblies) converged upon San Diego. He fails to note that the local robber barons were motivated to crack down of the Wobblies initially because they had the nerve to try and organize streetcar (the Spreckels family owned the street car company and the Union-Tribune back then) workers, a group that other unions ignored because they were largely Mexican. The Wobblies organizing efforts turned into a series of confrontations that historians now call the San Diego Free Speech Fight.
Wobblies from all over the country poured into San Diego in support of the cause, and local jails were packed. The authorities ultimately were powerless in the face of the unrelenting pressure from the union. So, with the blessing of the local power structure, vigilante groups were allowed to enter the fray. That’s when things got ugly. (More on this here). Thus a long tradition of sub-rosa relationships between local law enforcement and vigilantes against local trouble makers began.
Jenkins goes on from misrepresenting the past, to telling his readers that the local AFL-CIO took Labor Day weekend off after having a Friday morning banquet.
Funny thing is, I just returned from Horton Plaza where better than three hundred members of a least six unions that I counted, joined with local activists in a protest demanding “Jobs Not Cuts”. Congressman (and Mayoral candidate) Bob Filner spoke, along with Congressional candidate Lori Saldana, AFL-CIO Secretary Lorena Gonzalez, and Frank Gormlie. There were TV crews from at least four local stations at the rally. And there was an earlier rally in support of the Grocery Workers just a few blocks away; the print edition of the paper even ran a teaser headline for a local scab tv station right next to Jenkins’ column.
But, according to Jenkins, “[local labor leaders] Wouldn’t want to clutter the long weekend with parades and fire-breathing speeches that, frankly, few would take the time to attend.”
Memo to Jenkins:
1) The times are changing around here. There’s this thing called the “internet”. Once you learn how to use it, you’ll discover sites like “Facebook”, “Twitter” and “Blogs”. Millions of people use them. (Why, nearly 80,000 people a month visit this lowly site.) Had you known about this internet thing, instead of ripping news off from another dead tree journalism project (The North County Times, I’m told was the source of your misinformation), you might have been aware that organized labor did indeed have actions on tap for Labor Day.
2) And you might even have learned that organized labor and community groups in San Diego are planning a centennial observance of the San Diego Free Speech Fight next January. I intend to be one of the voices atop the soap boxes along Broadway next winter, even though I’m battling throat cancer. I bet you’ll be hiding behind you desk down in Mission Valley while we’re orating.