Keith Olbermann, Union Member

Apparently, in his earlier years as a journalist, Keith Obermann was a member of the AFL-CIO and it saved his job. He's moderating the AFL-CIO sponsored debate, and their weblog has an interview with him.

Olbermann has always been a bit, well, outspoken. Here's his response to a question about his own experiences with unions:

One anecdote from early in my career sums that up. I was 21 years old and in my first professional job in this business, with a radio network that used to be attached to United Press International, back when UPI was the rival to The Associated Press….It was quite a break for me to be working in New York.

I had a boss who treated me very well and we used to have these animated discussions–I won’t call them arguments, but we’ll call them animated discussions–about what I should and shouldn’t be doing. He was willing to listen to my point of view even if we started to raise our voices. One day our voices got raised and his boss came back from a liquid lunch and walked in on the tail end of this. Then my boss went into this guy’s office, which he often did to cool down and say “oh, that Olbermann….”At this point the boss’s boss…came in and fired me on the spot and said “you don’t give the managers no lip. You get your stuff and get out of here.”

I had the next days off anyway, this was Monday and I was back at work on Thursday. He had received a reprimand and had been sent home. I received a letter in my files that said, “Don’t yell at the managers.”

He basically fired me because he was drunk and didn’t like me. And it’s as simple as this; if that had not been a union operation, if there had been no Wire Service Guild, if we had not set certain brakes on the unilateral of what employers can and cannot do, I don’t know if I would have ever gotten another job….I was up for a local job in New York…I know they didn’t seriously consider me for the position afterwards…if that firing had held I might not have been able to continue in broadcasting.

Anyway ... very cool.

(I found this via Majikthise).

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