Fox News really had a field day this morning with the AFL-CIO’s meeting in Miami. For some reason, they kept coming back to this, with the Fox & Friends crew and Megyn Kelly blasting the union management for choosing a warm-weather destination in the middle of winter:
HEMMER: “Are you a member of a union? If so, leaders of the union giant AFL-CIO might be fighting to save the jobs of the middle class members in that union. Those members need to know where they’re doing it. Union executives holding their winter conference at a high-class resort in South Beach that’s Miami, Florida heading to the luxurious Fontainebleau Hotel. That hotel recently underwent a one billion makeover. We sent Brian Wilson – tough duty – for the low down with reports from Miami Beach so stay tuned for that.”
HEMMER: “That’s where they did the Victoria’s Secret show a couple months ago.
KELLY: “That’s a boondoggle for everyone involved, the AFL-CIO and Brian Wilson.”
KELLY: “We’re in the dungeon.”
I’m fully on board with the criticism about Card Check, but why attack them for holding the conference in Miami? Who in their right mind would hold a conference in Detroit in the winter … or for that matter, any other time of the year? Unless the Fontainebleu is a non-union shop, which doesn’t appear to be the case, all the union did was make the same kind of business decision that happens every day on venues and travel. Unlike bailout recipients, the unions aren’t getting billions in taxpayer dollars direct from the Treasury, so they’re spending their own money.
Also, a billion-dollar hotel is not a “boondoggle”. A “boondoggle” is an expensive and essentially worthless public-works project. The hotel’s owners spent the money to upgrade their asset, which put a lot of people to work without government intervention. Perhaps Kelly means “junket”, but even that has no meaning outside of the public sector.
Unions give us plenty to criticize without getting silly. Let’s stick to the actual arguments.
Update: I can’t quite believe I have to explain this to a group of self-proclaimed capitalists, but most companies and organizations don’t have sufficient space for regional and national meetings. Why? Leasing the space is far too costly to leave it unused for most of the year. That’s why hotels have a separate industry in hosting conferences and conventions; the workings of the rational market created the niche. Almost every large-scale company or organization has regularly scheduled national and regional meetings, which require them to rent space to accommodate them.
Now, is the Fontainebleu a ridiculously priced option? We don’t know, because Fox didn’t bother to find out. Instead, they talk about a billion-dollar upgrade in a complete non-sequitur to the question at hand. If Detroit was significantly cheaper, did that outweigh the potential losses from bad weather that could have interfered with the conference? My guess is that the Fontainebleu offered pretty good rates, as the market has assuredly dried up in the past few months. If so, then there is no story at all here.
You know, a news organization could have asked around about rates and found out that information. Too bad this one didn’t.