The Young Turks is a progressive media company co-founded by Cenk Uygur. When a group of employees announced plans to form a union earlier this year, CEO Uygur suddenly started sounding like a conservative union-buster. He warned that a union couldn’t make a magic pot of money appear and begged employees to reconsider. Thursday, over his objections, the employees voted to unionize:
We have voted again and have reaffirmed our decision to organize. We are pleased to announce that @TheYoungTurks has officially recognized @TYTUnion! We’re thrilled to now have a voice on the job at TYT! #TYTlive https://t.co/u9OUHPvPkc
— TYTUnion (@TYTUnion) April 10, 2020
Politico reports that before the vote took place Uygur wrote two letters, each more than 1,500 words, warning employees that having a union wouldn’t improve the company’s financial situation.
“Before IATSE came in, I think we used to have a great relationship with everyone at the company. But maybe I am Michael Scott and I thought we were friends and family but you never saw it that way,” Uygur wrote in an email to employees last week, as negotiations between the union and the company continued. “I’m hoping that isn’t the case, that some folks got you to believe that being adversarial with ‘management’ is the right thing to do.”…
In another email Uygur sent to staffers before their vote began earlier this week, he again urged his employees to vote “no” — using arguments that several staffers characterized as typical anti-union talking points often deployed by Republicans.
“[T]here is no magic that creates more money by having a union, especially at a company that does not yet make a profit,” Uygur wrote. “One of the top concerns I have is that having a union will cost us too much money — and that will not only endanger the company but also leave less for all of us,” he wrote…
“I don’t know where I go to get my reputation back,” Uygur wrote in one of his emails arguing against unionization sent last week. “Some portion of people will now forever know me as a union-buster, and much worse, as a boss who treats his employees poorly. So, if you wanted to do that damage, you already have.”
Uygur spoke to Politico about the letters and said he believed every word and didn’t mind them being made public. But, really, what is he going to say at this point? He lost the vote and all he can do now is try to make the best of what he clearly believes is a bad situation.
And that is what he really believes. Back in February, when the announcement to pursue unionization was made, Uygur reportedly became emotional, throwing papers off his desk onto the floor. The fact that he was still writing long emails to employees begging them to vote against unionization this week suggests he’s had the same anti-union opinion all along.
Wouldn’t it be something if this progressive standard-bearer went on his show and admitted what he really thinks? I’m no fan of Uygur, but if he could just do a segment pointing out how this decision puts his company at risk, I’d give him some credit. But he won’t do that. He’ll pretend that unions are a great thing in general, just not in his unique case. And what makes his case unique? Unlike other small businesses his company has, get this, limited resources. He really seems to imagine that’s not the case anywhere else.