AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka sent a letter Wednesday to MSNBC hosts Rachel Maddow, Ed Schultz, Al Sharpton, Lawrence O'Donnell and Chris Hayes, calling on them to meet with workers trying to organize the cable news channel's employees. The move puts the hosts -- all avowed liberals who back organized labor -- in a difficult position because their bosses at GE, which owns the channel, are opposing unionization.
The letter, signed by Trumka and two other top AFL-CIO officials, states: "Millions of viewers across the country look to your shows as a platform for progressive ideas and advancing workers’ rights. The workers at [NBC's Peacock Productions] respect your work, as do we, and have seen the influence you have on many issues important to working people. We urge you to take the time to meet with these producers and associate producers to hear their concerns first-hand. We would be glad to join you. We know you will be moved, as we have been."
Trumka alleges in the letter that NBC has been forcing the workers to attend mandatory anti-union meetings and used other legal maneuvering to stymie collective bargaining rights.
"Peacock has not acted in good faith," he writes, adding later: "These actions are wrong, and we hope you will stand with your colleagues to denounce them."
Trumka is obviously trying to publicly shame the hosts into backing the push to unionize MSNBC. If they don't, they'll face charges of hypocrisy since they back unions in most other cases.
Most of the MSNBC hosts have kept their distance from the efforts, though Salon.com reported last week that Hayes did meet privately with workers trying to form a union. An AFL-CIO spokesman said they had not received a response so far. "[It] just went out today."
Schultz, who has taken in more than $250,000 in advertising fees from unions for his website, broke his silence last week, claiming in a series of contentious interviews that his liberal critics had "income envy."