A fine (or terrible, depending on how you look at it) example of how journalists and journalism shape perception of reality by using the technique of "framing" comes in today's New York Times business section, which carries a dispatch from Noam Scheiber about an employee who was apparently fired by a Trader Joe's food store.
From the Times article:
Mr. Nagle's filing challenges policies that appear in the Trader Joe's crew handbook and job bulletins, and which were read aloud to him. One of the latter required employees to maintain a "positive attitude."
Some labor experts say such policies may be illegal because federal labor law gives employees the right to discuss working conditions and the merits of joining a union with one another, and to complain about working conditions to the public, including customers. Any company rule that an employee would reasonably interpret as discouraging these activities is most likely to be illegal, according to Wilma Liebman, a former chairman of the National Labor Relations Board.
In a decision involving T-Mobile earlier this year, the labor relations board struck down a rule in that company's handbook that said: "Employees are expected to maintain a positive work environment by communicating in a manner that is conducive to effective working relationships."
To me, the news in this story is less that some worker is unhappy about being fired from Trader Joe's, and more that labor law in America has reached the absurd point where the NLRB is taking the position that a company can't tell its employees to have a positive attitude. It seems crazy; both an infringement on the free speech rights of the employer and an impractical interference in a company's effort to make a profit.
The Times identifies Ms. Liebman as a former NLRB chairman, but, according to Wikipedia, she's also spent a dozen years working as a lawyer for unions such as the Teamsters and bricklayers.
One wonders what Congress — which, according to the Constitution, is supposed to make the laws (as opposed to the NLRB making them) — would think of the proposition that it should be illegal for a company to tell workers to have a positive attitude. It's an angle about which the Times seems totally incurious.
The Times article, which is quite lengthy, also, strangely, manages not to mention who owns Trader Joe's. It's Aldi Nord, whose family ownership, the Albrechts, reportedly are in some kind of feud.