There is an unfortunate lie being insinuated and pedalled by some in the media that being part of a union somehow makes you dodgy, criminal, and untrustworthy.

These pathetic members of the media are too incompetent or too lazy, or perhaps a bit too much of both to actually do what they are paid to do and research their subjects. Perhaps it may be the case that there is just no dirt of any significance to shovel on their targets. Either way for some it is far easier to belittle them with name calling, and the popular choice these days for sloppy reporters is “Union Hack”.

However it is a title that those using the term are selective about whom they bestow it upon. You won’t see the childish name calling used to describe someone like Bill Shorten, or even Bob Hawke for example, they save the displays of their own laziness for when it comes to people they don’t like, or people they don’t like writing about someone from the union movement entering politics, as we have seen recently.


So what is a hack?

Well conventional dictionaries describe it in terms of what happens to a computer when the Liberal Party take over responsibility for the census. The Urban Dictionary however describes the most commonly used definition as being;

“a person who is a professional at doing some sort of service, but does crappy work”

That’s pretty much the description I’d use for all those who are in fact using the term. Certainly the one pictured above fits the mould as he rarely does anything that doesn’t involve the opportunity to publicly stroke his own overinflated ego.

One of the great ironies is that many of those making these comments are in fact members of a union, that being the MEAA.

The MEAA (Media Entertainment & Arts Alliance) is an excellent union that represents several industries. The MEAA was formed in 1992 when several unions merged.

The MEAA is also a Labor Party affiliated union in NSW and SA.

The MEAA also organise the Walkley Awards, which include awards for journalism that those who are seeking to belittle unions self-nominate for.

I wonder if these reporters won an award, as some have done, if that would make them a “Union Hack”?

So what does it take to become a Union Hack?

Being a union hack is hard work, it its most basic it means dedicating most of your time and energy to improve the lives of others around you. Now I know that sounds positively evil, but it gets even more sinister.

Being a union hack means that you have to work long hours for low salary to try and gain better pay for others. Whilst doing that you will have counsel, console and represent people who have been driven to despair by some of the cruellest bosses on earth. In some cases with some unions you will have to attend workplaces accidents that may involve young men or women that have been killed at their place of work in some of the most grisly circumstances one could imagine.


A union hack means you have to take all the criticism and abuse from people for being that union hack and then be expected to be their critics best friend when they are suddenly threatened with redundancy or caught up in a pay dispute.

As a union hack you may be called on the negotiate with bean counters from multi-million dollar companies to try and get a 2% pay rise for workers struggling to pay the mortgage or feed the family. Other union hacks have the pleasure of dealing with politicians to secure award rate increases which is a thankless task when dealing with a Coalition government who would rather see profits go to their fat cat mates and party donors.

Being a union hack means you don’t have time to be a part of the “latte society” where some of these critics sit haunting inner city cafes and passing judgement on others who are trying to make workplaces safer and give workers a much-needed voice.

Being a union hack means working tirelessly on improving the lives of the many rather than the few. For a union hack working for the community is not a line to seek to be elected, it is a life commitment. It is a commitment that has been made by an enormous number of union employees who will never run for parliament and will never seek glory or congratulations for the commitment they have made to serving the community.

People like Bernard Keane may think he’s the bigger man for putting these people down, but the reality is he is only showing us all the little man he actually is.

The union hack is the very thing our parliament and society needs more of.

It’s the self-obsessed tossers we can do without.


12 thoughts on “Tossed – The country’s union hacks exposed

  1. Thank you Peter…a very..VERY good piece …what a shame it wont be seen & read by the mainstream publication readers..who are mostly in the vile Twittersphere anyway!
    People SO EASILY forget that ALL the rights they enjoy in the workforce today..have been long & hard fought for by unions! I recall even as a young girl in an office back in the “Fabulous Fifties”…I was being HUGELY underpaid….& Management refused to even listen. I was not then, a member of any Union…but THAT experience was a salutary lesson…& it never happened again. If one conducted a “head-count” of say…a dozen or so company employees …across the board..right now…ill bet they would be pushed to find even 6 or 7 members of ANY union! Very very sad.
    Murdoch & Co have certainly done their union-bashing jobs well..
    For shame! & in Australia…with such a proud history of Battlers in the Workplace!

  2. Bernard Keane has always revealed himself to be a person with an unwarrantedly high opinion of his own judgments. In resorting to patronising comments about “Independent Australia”, he has just provided more evidence of accuracy of the evaluation of his work by more intelligent, better informed and less arrogant commentators such as you. Peter. The irony is his own lack of independence of analysis, not of Independent Australia’s.

  3. I worked for the United Trades and Labour Council of SA for almost a year in the late 1980’s. One union hack exposed the illegal use of asbestos on building sites, another exposed the brutal treatment dished out to migrant workers, another was a health and safety officer, another is now a well respected State ALP MP,.

    All of them worked 12 hours a day for shitty pay.

  4. The ALP grew from the trade union movement, which created the safe workplaces and fair wages that protected Australian workers and their families. We have much to be proud of with that. The ALP is the only political party that has had, as a core value, the protection of rights of working people and their families for over one hundred years. The big lie promoted by conservatives of the conspiracy between trade unions and the ALP is tautology. They are as one. The diversity of views in the ALP is proof of their democratic structure. USA set out to destroy unions since Reagan and let that be a lesson. One % of the population that is three million people in Gaol , $7.50 minimum wage , unaffordable health care, unaffordable education. Corporations buying political power. Gee sounds just like the LNP/IPA wet dream.

  5. Ever heard the term: “hack and spit” or “hacked up a golly”?
    The term (pre-computers) was meant to be derogatory.

  6. When the country and media are so far to the Right then by definition, everything else must be to the Left.

    Likewise, when you are especially close-minded with a sense of infallibility then any criticism becomes conspiratorial.

    I used to thank Keane was reasonably even-handed in his commentaries but attacking the messenger is a bad sign – especially when he stoops to mock the “Independent” part of a web-site name.

    Crikey has a lot of things to be embarrassed about.

  7. Why bother voting Labour, we voted them in 2007 to overturn Work Choices and they did F All. Union money, my money continues to flow to these HACKS and working conditions continue to worsen. I now earn less than I did in 2003 doing the same job for the same company. What are we paying for? Every single complaint our union delegates raise apparently gets beaten in court. HACKS sounds about adequate to me.

  8. It’s Labor, not Labour firstly

    Labor did defeat Workchoices and your current woes are due to the current government which is a Liberal government, not a Labor government.

    If you think you would be better off without someone fighting on your behalf, then don’t be a member of the union and vote for the mob that are currently screwing you over.

    We are all unhappy with the state of play with the work force as it stands under this government giving tax breaks to the firms screwing us, but my advice would be not to throw in the towel just yet and vote for a change of govt

  9. Yes, I am aware they prefer to use the American spelling over the Australian spelling, I will do that since it seems to bother you. It bothers me Labor can’t stand up for the Labourers and sure Liberals won’t either, so as far as my vote goes, it can’t go to either of them.

    Right now if we strike our union delegates tell us it is a 10,000 fine on each worker. Before Work Choices this was no issue and we would go on strike when required. Rudd was voted in only because of Work Choices, but still we can’t strike without the threat of huge fines and dismissal, now Labor had at least two terms to sort that out and they didn’t! Utterly corrupt bastards! I certainly wouldn’t vote Labor ever again and once I do finally leave this place of work I will never join the union again. When you have no rights, whats the point of being in a union.

  10. I’m not an expert on this part of IR law, so I hope someone who is responds to you.

    I can’t imagine that this is not something the CFMEU or ETU would be fighting if its true, perhaps give them a call

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