As those of you who are plugged into the world of politics may know, popular MSNBC host Keith Olbermann was suspended indefinitely without pay for donating $2,400 to three Democratic candidates.
So what does this have to do with union contracts?
In one word: Everything.
You see, this rule, which I believe violates the 1st amendment, was not always in place. In fact, other high profile MSNBC employees such as Pat Buchanan and Joe Scarborough also made donations in the past. The difference is that MSNBC management changed the rule a few years ago.
The reason this is relevant to the importance of having a union contract is that because MSNBC employees do not have a union contract, management was able to change this workplace rule without any negotiation or notice. Had their been a union contract in place, management would have had to notify the union and bargain the details of it's implementation and effect on employees. We know how it worked out for Olbermann. While Olbermann will probably be back on the air due to his loyal following, the majority of MSNBC employees working without a contract do not enjoy the same safety net. If I were an MSNBC employee, I would already be calling an organizer from IATSE, AFTRA, CWA, OPEIU, or any other relevant union to organize.
Let's hope Olbermann uses this situation to help his co-workers get the protections they need and deserve.