There are few people in the media who are worse off than Tucker Carlson. The Fox News moderator regularly campaigns for white nationalist views on his nightly show and spreads his dangerous, hateful ideology among millions of viewers (and the White House). To put it briefly: He is shitty.
And yet, Carlson made an extremely good point tonight as he talked about the mass redundancies at Buzzfeed, which left more than 200 people unemployed: it would have been harder to lay that many employees with so little respect when they had one Union.
"Peretti has spent much of his time praising the virtues of inclusiveness and diversity and, of course, attacking conservatives as" racist "," Carlson said. "At the same time, Peretti has crushed the efforts of his own staff to unionize."
That's right. As early as 2017, Buzzfeed employees had considered considering forming a union, following in the footsteps of the Gizmodo Media Group, Huffington Post, and many other publications that have been organized in recent years. CEO Jonah Peretti argued that no union was needed. He told employees that although he believed that unions in general were a good idea, no union was needed on his particular butterfly of a corporation. Just over a year later, it looks like Peretti is doing exactly what everyone thought at the time: opposing trade unions' trade union purposes.
Although a union may not be able to terminate redundancies, unions can negotiate with management to secure certain conditions for employees when mass redundancies occur. After Buzzfeed began dismissing employees, an employment movement that demanded that redundant workers be compensated for their unused paid leave gained traction. That is precisely the condition that could have been written in a trade union contract if the company had organized a year ago. Unions can also introduce the option of buyouts for employees, as the Gizmodo Media Group has done. However, Buzzfeed is too late – former employees are now forced to rely on the generosity of their boss instead of a written contract they helped shape.
As disgusting as Carlson is, he is right. It is hypocritical for Peretti to position himself as a supporter of social justice while he fucks his own employees.
But it's not surprising that Carlson does not know the solution well.
"Greedy, stupid bosses who buy a pass from the business press by chewing on progressive platitudes are indeed very common," Carlson said in his show. "What's rare are humane bosses who look after the people who work for them."
The first part of this quote undoubtedly applies. From Amazon to Thinx, bosses who represent progressive views and treat their workers like shit are everywhere. But although it would be nice if these bosses were more humane, the workers can not rely on it, and that's why we need unions. You can not rely on people who have the power and the incentive to use them for your benefit. If workers want to survive, they have to claim some of that power. And that is exactly what collective organization does. It's a shame that Buzzfeed's employees could not use that ability to their advantage.
Strange as it may seem, this is not the first time that Carlson has paid lip service to economic populism in his show. He has recently made economic arguments that are beyond the ruling class. Even his anti-immigrant indignation is often referred to as populist concern.
This should scare all progressives and leftists. If the only person on the television working for the rights of the working class does so in the same breath as a dehumanizing immigrant, then we are really shitty. To save this country, we must take back populism from the right and claim what is obviously true: that social justice is inseparable in order to end economic inequality. The search for the basic human rights of all people does not have to be at the expense of marginalized groups. We have more power together.