AP Business Writer Ashley Heher reports on one of the stranger ideas floated at the YearlyKos convention:
In a move that might make some people scratch their heads, a loosely formed coalition of left-leaning bloggers are trying to band together to form a labor union they hope will help them receive health insurance, conduct collective bargaining or even set professional standards.
The conservative bloggers reacting so far are indeed scratching their heads — or laughing themselves silly.
Q and O‘s Jon Henke wonders, “Collectively bargain with and receive health insurance from who? Who would they go on strike against? To whom does the blogger ‘shop steward’ talk? What constitutes ‘management’ for an independent blogger?
Wizbang‘s Paul piles on: “Collective bargaining? What are they going to do… go on strike? Are they really so self-absorbed they think if they quit blogging the world will care? Color me incredulous.”
Exactly right. As I’ve argued in a few posts in response to related ideas, nobody owes bloggers a living. If you can’t sell ads or otherwise get people to pay you for blogging, then you’re almost by definition not providing much value that would be missed.
So long as bloggers remain mostly independent operators, I can’t conceive how collective bargaining and demands for higher wages might work. On the other hand, organization could conceivably provide many of the aims listed above. The model, though, isn’t the labor union but rather the professional association.
For example, the Media Bloggers Association (of which I’m a board member) have arranged for legal protection for its members and articulated some professional standards as a means of acquiring credentialing to cover limited access events like the Scooter Libby Trial and presidential debates. We’re working, too, to figure out a way to get group rates on insurance (right now we’re focusing on liability insurance to protect against libel and copyright violation suits but health insurance isn’t out of the realm of possibility).
Just got off the phone with another reporter. I told her no, I wasn’t specifically trying to get bloggers to join a union but rather, I was looking at any and all vehicles through which bloggers could affiliate and thus get affordable health insurance.
Heher’s report might be just a wee bit in the “making a mountain out of a molehill” variety. If so, it wouldn’t be the first time in the history of journalism.