In a brazen but not all too shocking move, the union for Los Angeles police officers is demanding the owner of the San Diego Union-Tribune to “change the paper’s editorial stance on labor issues or to fire its editorial writers.”
To provide some context, the police officers’ pension fund invests with Platinum Equity, a private equity firm that recently purchased the Union-Tribune. The Union-Tribune‘s editorial board has consistently called for the city of San Diego to cut back on costs (re: salaries and benefits) to reduce the city’s chronic budget woes. This of course does not sit well with the union.
So what do they do? The union wants the newspaper to fire writers because they happen to have a policy disagreement. Not to mention that they want to fire people whose job is to articulate and express those very opinions.
When asked about the matter, the union president didn’t even bother to offer a sound argument as to why the Union-Tribune editorial writers should be fired. Instead, he complains that “it’s just these people on the opinion side. There is not even an attempt to be even-handed. They’re one step away from saying, ‘these public employees are parasites.'”
Compare his response to the editor of the Union-Tribune‘s editorial page: “We are not anti-public safety or public employee. … All of this has to be considered within the context of what the city can afford. A bankrupt city can’t provide any public safety very well.”
We don’t need to sermonize on the virtues and necessity of free speech in a democratic society. But we are obliged to point out that we are headed down an unpleasant and unprecedented road if a union can dictate the content and messaging of a newspaper simply because it disagrees with the union.