The Hypocrisy of Michael Moore’s Union Rant

Last week, after Right-to-Work passed in Michigan, many were celebrating workplace freedom in the historic union stronghold. Some, however, were less than thrilled. Take, for example, Michael Moore, hypocrite extraordinaire who took to Twitter to express his displeasure. 

His tweets promised “I will not obey this law” and “If you write, direct, edit, shoot, or do sound for me on my next movie, you will not work for me unless you belong to the union.” He is certainly allowed to hire whom he pleases, but the law applies to everyone. As a Michigan native, Michael Moore does quite a bit of work in the state. Let’s take a look to see if he’s willing to put his sizable money where his (also sizable) mouth is. 

Moore founded the Traverse City Film Festival nine years ago, and has always relied on volunteer work to keep things going smoothly. The film festival also bought and restored the State Theatre downtown Traverse City, of which Moore is President of the Board of Directors which their site describes as a “volunteer-staffed art house movie theater.” Volunteer work is a great thing, but how can someone who feels that working outside of a union is such a horrifying thing allow people to work for free? Certainly that would be hypocritical. 

What about his track record for those he pays? Historically, he’s been willing to hire both union and non-union workers. In 2000, he filmed a music video for band Rage Against the Machine, and came under fire for using non-union extras. In this instance, Moore claimed not to know they were non-union until after the project wrapped. He didn’t have this excuse nine years later when filming, ironically, Capitalism: A Love Story

While most workers on this film were unionized, he hired non-union workers rather than working with the International Alliance of Theatrical Stage Employees. This union represents stage hands, computer graphics engineers, and hair and makeup professionals. Moore’s agent Ari Emmanuel stated that this was due to a lack of qualified workers within the union. “Nothing would make Michael happier than for documentary filmmaking to get its due respect, and to have unions pursue the documentary film crews with the same energy they give to bringing feature crews into their membership and making it a viable option for them,” he said 

Just as Moore made the choice he thought was best for his film, shouldn’t all workers have the chance to make the choice they think best for themselves? Sounds like another case of “Do as I say, not as I do.”