Nader kicks out reporter for scab paper
May/June 2000

After nearly five years of labor dispute, Detroit Free Press reporters are still getting kicked out of news events.

Detroit Free Press political columnist Hugh McDiarmid got the boot from a news conference at St. Andrew's Hall, where Ralph Nader, the longtime consumer advocate, was discussing his run for president as the Green Party candidate.

Detroit Newspaper Guild president Lou Mleczko had just introduced Nader, recalling the help that Nader's organization Public Citizen had given in opposing the joint operating agreement between the News and the Free Press that took effect in 1989.

Then shouts were heard, "There's a scab here!"

"We don't want any of those people," said Nader, "so show him the door."

Nader had plenty to say about journalism and about labor.

He described how chains like Gannett are cutting back on reporters to fatten the bottom line. They emphasize stories like those about Elian Gonzalez, the Cuban boy who became an international incident, because they are cheap to cover, Nader said. And those stories drive out the significant stories.

Nader said the majority of the population is making less, in inflation-adjusted dollars, than they did 25 years ago. He said the top one percent now own as much as the bottom 95 percent.

Meanwhile, "you have the lowest percentage of unionized workers in 60 years." The rate of unionization is the lowest among industrialized nations, Nader said.

In Washington, said Nader, the Republicans and Democrats are getting more and more alike. He said OSHA "is as weak now under Clinton-Gore as it was Reagan-Bush."

Nader said, "You can't have free trade with countries that are not free." He disputed the use of the term free trade. What is meant by the term, he said, is "corporate-dominated trade."

He got loud applause when he called for repealing the Taft-Hartley act and restoring "the full protection of the Wagner Act," which established the National Labor Relations Act in 1930's.

Nader also suggested triple damages for unfair labor practice strikers.

He is promoting a "blue-green coalition" that will join union members with environmentalists.

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