SAG-AFTRA Welcomes Al Jazeera English To The Union, Then Gets A Surprise


Just minutes after SAG-AFTRA announced today that the “content creators” at Al Jazeera English had voted overwhelmingly to join the union, the news site tweeted a link to an opinion piece it posted earlier in the day titled: “Why Israel Does Not Mind Trump’s Anti-Semitic Supporters.”

The op-ed, by Nora Barrows Friedman – a staff editor and reporter with The Electronic Intifada – attempts to make the case that “It is in the interest of Israel for Jewish Americans and Jewish Europeans to feel unsafe. She claims it’s “sda horrifying and stark reality and one that Israeli leaders can only try to cover up by falsely deflecting the blame for the lethal anti-Semitism that visited the Tree of Life synagogue onto anti-racist activists and even left-wing Jewish groups.”

Certainly, SAG-AFTRA is not responsible for the content posted by news organizations it’s attempting to unionize, but the timing for such an incendiary anti-Israel article couldn’t have been much worse, coming as it does as the dead are still being buried following the massacre at the Tree of Life synagogue in Pittsburgh. Al Jazeera, meanwhile, attempted to distance itself from the op-ed it had posted by noting, “The views expressed in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera’s editorial stance.”

Meanwhile, said SAG-AFTRA president Gabrielle Carteris said in announcing the news: “I want to extend a warm welcome to the media professionals at Al Jazeera English on their decision to join SAG-AFTRA. It is imperative, particularly in these challenging times, that we ensure those responsible for informing our country and the world by reporting the news are protected. We at SAG-AFTRA are committed to standing with these media professionals in their fight for fair wages, workplace safety including while traveling, benefits and workplace accountability.”

Describing themselves as “journalists who work tirelessly to uphold a commitment to unbiased truth,” the Al Jazeera English union organizing committee said in a statement that “We the employees of Al Jazeera English are excited to finally have our union confirmed by a National Labor Relations Board election, with SAG-AFTRA as our collective bargaining representative. “We are equally excited and optimistic about working with Al Jazeera Media Network management in negotiating fair wages and benefits, work-life balance, workplace equality, accountability and opportunity. We now feel that we have a seat at the table and hope that Al Jazeera English will meet us there to negotiate what is best for both the company and its employees. We hope that this will be the beginning of a dialogue in which we are free to discuss many of the major concerns employees have today.”

SAG-AFTRA said that the vote to join the union was approved by 97% of the news organization’s 66 U.S.-based employees, including hosts, reporters, editors, and camerapersons who create content for the news, programming, and investigative units.

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