I just got off the phone with Nancy Mills, the Deputy Chief of Staff for AFL-CIO, who had some thoughts for us on the substance and the implication of Sorkin's statements on MSNBC.
"One of the things it points out is that the American public in general, and those who have an axe to grind, who are promoting this ignorance, don't seem to know who's in unions." Mills said.
She noted that there's no shortage of companies with successful worker-employer partnerships adding that "People think of these as good places, successful, interesting, and they don't stop and think that they might be unionized, because there hasn't been a picket line."
I asked her if unions, or the greater labor movement have any culpability for allowing this predominant line of thinking to go largely unchallenged. She noted that there's a long standing debate within the labor movement about the usefulness of spending dues dollars on messaging to non-union members, and that the big federations have spent the last several years fending off attacks from anti-union interests leaving little in the way of time or resources to promote a positive message.
Late update: You can read Sorkin's apology here.