Last Week Tonight with John Oliver (2014–…): Season 8, Episode 30 - Episode #8.30 - full transcript

This week John Oliver takes a look at the practice of Union busting i.e. preventing the formation of a union. Since 1980s union membership has declined considerably. Americans are living in one of the worst times for organized labor in U.S. history even though nearly half of the American workforce would like to be in a union. To prevent a union from getting registered, companies tell their managers to be on the lookout for potential signs of organizing. Once workers start organizing to form a union, companies hire union busting firms who engage in practices like inundating workers with anti-union signs and messages, having mandatory meetings designed to spread fear about the unions and its dues, promoting lies about union changing the work ethic/culture of the company and threaten to close down the workplace if unions are formed. Companies also target employees who try to unionize by making their jobs harder or fire them since the consequences of doing that are next to nothing. To save unions, John says that the U.S. congress could pass the P.R.O. act and till then workers shouldn't get disheartened or afraid of these union busting tactics by companies. John also talks about the Jan. 6 insurrection, some of the rioters who have escaped or are going to prison and politicians who instigated the violence.

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Welcome to "Last Week Tonight".
I'm John Oliver.

Thank you for joining us, just time
for a quick recap of the week,

and as this is our final show of 2021,
we thought we'd check in on the event

that started all of it,
the January 6th insurrection.

That's right!
This year started with that

and against all better judgment,
kept going.

While the human cause of the riots
is still stonewalling investigators,

this week saw developments regarding
some of its rank-and-file participants.

A Capitol riot suspect
on the FBI's Most Wanted list

has turned up now in Belarus.

The fugitive's name is Evan Neumann.
He's from California.

Here he is during an interview
with state media in Belarus.

Neumann claims he's innocent
and a victim of political persecution.

Great idea, Evan! You're worried
about political persecution,

so you go to Belarus,

country run by a man who calls himself
"the last and only dictator in Europe."

You can read all about their
free-flowing exchange of ideas

in any of Belarus's publications,
like Redacted Magazine

and All Praise Our Glorious Leader
Who Isn't Bald Quarterly!

Other participants in the insurrection
have been facing consequences.

The QAnon Shaman, a name I still
cannot believe I have to say out loud,

is awaiting sentencing
after pleading guilty.

Then there is Jenna Ryan,
a Texas real estate agent

who entered the Capitol, and later
got attention for Tweeting:

"Definitely not going to jail.
Sorry I have blonde hair, white skin,"

"a great job, a great future
and I'm not going to jail."

Which is, on one hand,
a dangerously brazen Tweet,

but on the other, a pretty great
"Real Housewives" catchphrase.

"I have blonde hair, white skin
and I'm not going to jail."

She's the new Erika Jayne
and I don't say that lightly.

But to be fair, Jenna Ryan was right.
She's not going to jail.

Because she's actually going to prison.
Earlier this month,

she was sentenced
to 60 days behind bars

and this week,
sat down with local news

to make it absolutely clear
she's learned nothing from this.

Ryan flew with friends
on a private plane

to the Stop the Steal rally
in D.C. before going back to her hotel.

While watching news coverage,
she decided to go back

and posted a video saying
she was going to storm the Capitol.

I was like:
"We're storming the Capitol!"

and I meant, we're storming
with our words,

we're going down there to tell them,
you know, it's free speech.

We are armed and dangerous!
This is the beginning!

What are you talking about,
you Marjorie Taylor Wanna-Greene?

"Storming with words?"
That's not a thing.

That's never been a thing. If you
look up "thing" in the dictionary,

I'm pretty sure it says:
"Not storming with words."

Jenna also outlined how she's preparing
for her 60-day sentence,

which is, if nothing else,
on brand.

It's all you can think about.
I'm watching all the YouTube videos

on how prison is,
how to go to prison, what to do.

I don't know what's weirder there,
that she seems so casual

or that an adult has to go to YouTube
to learn how prison is.

I'll tell you, it's bad, Jenna!
Really bad!

Also, that is not what YouTube
should be used for.

YouTube is for watching
two-minute movie trailers,

40-minute explainer videos

pointing out all the easter eggs
you missed in that trailer

and TikTok compilations
because you're too old to learn TikTok

but too desperate to let it
pass you by completely.

That is what YouTube is for.
And of course, destroying the world

by melting people's brains
with utter nonsense.

Speaking of which, in the least
surprising move imaginable,

Jenna Ryan launched a podcast
on her YouTube channel this week.

Here is a clip
from Monday's first episode.

I want you to be able
to come to my channel,

listen to what I have to say and be
well caught-up on alternative news.

I just made that up!
That's what I want.

We're in hell.

Ryan is not alone in not learning
important lessons from January 6th.

Take Representative Paul Gosar,
who bragged that he helped organize

the very first
Stop the Steal rally in Arizona

and "Tweeted various versions
of Stop the Steal at least 25 times"

in the run-up to the insurrection.

Gosar is still very much in Congress
and just this week,

was criticized for pulling this shit.

A U.S. congressman is under fire
today for posting a video

which simulates him killing
one of his colleagues.

Republican Paul Gosar from Arizona
shared the clip on social media,

which was altered
from a popular anime series.

In it, a cartoon figure with his face
attacks a figure with the face

of Democratic congresswoman
Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez.

It also appears to go after
President Biden with swords.

Clearly, there is a lot going on there.
But just in terms of sheer weirdness,

I'm not sure that I can get
over the idea that Paul Gosar,

this guy, is in any way
familiar with anime.

When I see Paul Gosar,
I think a few things.

I think asshole, troll,
plucked Sam the Eagle,

guy who looks like he Googles "why
aren't there more breakfast soups".

But anime fan? This guy?

Shame on me, I guess,
for judging a book by its cover.

Please carry on and enjoy
"Neon Genesis Evangelion",

subs not dubs, 'til the day
they put you in the ground.

Instead of simply apologizing,
Gosar doubled down,

Tweeting this meme in response,
saying: "It's a cartoon, relax."

And look, it is, kind of.
It'd be disingenuous of me

to pretend that Gosar Tweeting
a poorly-edited anime video

meant that he was going
to physically attack AOC.

I don't think
he's going to do that,

not least because if he did,
he would lose.

But also, just because
something isn't a literal threat

doesn't mean it can't still
inspire real-world harm.

Because if we've learned
anything from January 6th,

and it seems that
we have not learned nearly enough,

it's that it's very easy for a joke
to become reality,

and that a troubling number of people
don't seem to understand the difference

between "storming the Capitol"
metaphorically and physically.

Knowing full well that this video
might now show up

if Jenna searches YouTube for "what
to do in prison after Capitol riots",

allow me to take this opportunity
to address her directly.

Jenna, from the bottom of my heart,
thanks for watching,

smash that like button, hit subscribe,
sound off in the comments

with what you want big swingin'
John to talk about in a future video,

the fun continues in my Instagram,
so check that out

and, as always, new merch
in the description.

Namaste. And now, this.

And Now: The Many Questions
of Fox and Friends' Brian Kilmeade.

How do diners have 20 pages in their
menu? They can make anything, right?

Why do all newborns
have that same blanket?

What great American decided that
you needed a bun with a hot dog?

What's the difference between
SoulCycle and spinning? Do we know?

And why did it hit the iceberg?
Do we know?

What do bears eat? Squirrels?
Why are bears always alone?

Do you think the sharks know
it's Shark Week?

What part of the cow is the skirt?
It makes you question everything.

Why was it ever
the International House of Pancakes?

But how does a baby retire?
What if a tree could just hover?

Is Spam meat? What's this called?
Why are turnips so seasonal?

Do you have turnips
more than once a year?

Why don't we have turnips all year
round? Because the pilgrims didn't?

- You do?
- Yeah, sure.

Moving on. Our main story
tonight concerns unions.

The institutions that brought us
the weekend, the middle class

and, in the case of the international
ladies garment workers union,

an absolute banger of a song.

And before we play this,
I have a favorite singer here,

see if they're yours too.

Look for the union label

When you are buying
that coat, dress, or blouse.

Remember somewhere
our union's sewing,

Our wages going to feed the kids...
And run the house.

We work hard,
but who's complaining?

Thanks to the ILG,
we're paying our way!

So, always look for the union label,

It says we're able
to make it in the USA!

They look so happy!
It's a video so uplifting,

you barely pause to wonder
how many of them are dead now.

By the way, yes, my favorite singer
is the "and run the house" lady.

She's the only one who gets
to make a dramatic entrance.

She's got a fabulous mushroom haircut,
wide lapels and the voice of an angel.

Every singer in that song is a star,
but she is the brightest in the galaxy.

Now, that ad, if it weren't obvious
from every single thing about it,

is from the early 1980s,
and unfortunately, since then,

union membership
has declined considerably.

Today, just over 10 percent of American
workers belong to a union.

That is just half the rate it was
in 1983,

meaning we're currently living in one
of the worst times for organized labor

in our country's history.

And it's not like
the demand isn't there.

Nearly half of non-union workers
say they would like to be in a union.

A lot of workplaces do seem
like a natural fit for one.

Take Amazon. You've likely
heard the infamous stories

of drivers being forced to pee
in bottles in order to make quotas,

stories that Amazon initially denied,
then apologized for denying,

finally admitting that their drivers
do sometimes have to piss in bottles.

It's like the old adage: "'Tis better
to seek forgiveness than permission,"

"unless this is about piss bottles,
in which case,"

"take a look at yourself, man,
what are you even doing?"

Mahatma Gandhi.

Yet, despite that and other reports
of abysmal working conditions,

an organizing drive for Amazon
warehouse workers in Bessemer,

was voted down
by more than two to one.

Which may seem like a clear-cut case

of workers deciding
for themselves to reject a union,

but the truth is
it's a lot more complicated than that.

Because if you have never been through
a union organizing drive yourself,

you might assume that a union vote
is a completely free and fair election,

that is an illusion fed by executives
like Jeff Bezos,

America's least-inspiring astronaut,
through statements like this.

We don't believe
that we need a union

to be an intermediary
between us and our employees

but, of course, at the end of the day,
it's always the employees' choice.

And that's how it should be.

Yeah, I don't know about you,
but I'm personally not comforted

by hearing one of the richest men
on earth say, "It's your choice."

No matter the context,
all I can hear is:

"Spear or arrow? How would you prefer
to be hunted? It's your choice."

But it is worth knowing
just how many ways

Amazon and many other companies
try to influence the employees' choice.

Because they can exert
a huge amount of pressure.

So, tonight,
let's take a look at union busting,

what it is, how it works

and how few consequences
companies face for doing it.

Let's start with a basic breakdown
of how a union drive works.

The first thing to know is that
any employer may recognize a union

based solely on majority support.

So, they can let employees
unionize immediately,

but they are not required to do that,

unless it's been chosen
through a secret ballot vote.

Unsurprisingly, that is how most
unions end up getting recognized.

The first key step in union busting

is preventing things
from ever reaching that point.

Because for an election
to happen at all,

30 percent of workers
must sign a union card,

expressing an initial interest
in union representation.

But Amazon, for instance,
has instructed its managers

to be on high alert for the slightest
sign that that might happen,

as this leaked internal video shows.

If you see warning signs
of potential organizing,

notify your building HRM
and GM site leader immediately.

The most obvious signs would include
use of words associated with unions

or union-led movements
like "living wage" or "steward".

Set aside how mask-off it is
to treat the phrase "living wage"

like the first warning sign
of a stroke,

you would also think a 2 trillion
dollars company like Amazon

could spring for better
animation than JibJab.

If enough workers do sign cards,
the election process is then underway.

And in that process, companies
have some pretty huge advantages.

Because obviously,
when you're on their premises,

they have unfettered access to you,

while also having the ability
to keep union reps out.

Many companies take full advantage
of that access.

Amazon, for instance,
inundated workers

with anti-union signs
all over their workplace,

even putting them
inside bathroom stalls.

They also used workers' contact info

to send multiple anti-union
text messages to them per day

and held mandatory meetings
that seemed designed to spread fear.

They had somebody who was like
the captain of the union busting

who would come down
and teach, like...

What was
the official title of the class?

They just called it union training.
That's it.

Which is funny because it's not union
training. It's union busting 101.

It's not union training if
the explicit goal is to kill the union.

It would be like taking a dog
training class from Cruella de Vil.

Although, no, not the one that's
a misunderstood bohemian or whatever,

I'm talking about the real Cruella.

Yeah, that one.
The original dogicidal bad bitch.

These mandatory propaganda sessions
are called "captive audience meetings"

and most Amazon workers at Bessemer
were having to attend two per week.

And that is not uncommon,
nearly 90 percent of employers

facing union campaigns
hold captive audience meetings.

Starbucks is facing a union drive
at six of its stores in Buffalo

and it has been doing everything
that you've seen so far,

sending anti-union text messages,
putting up signs

and holding
"captive audience meetings."

It may be no coincidence that Amazon's
and Starbucks' tactics are similar.

Because both hired union
busting law firms and consultants

to help them with their campaigns,
which is not unusual,

union busting is a whole industry.

There are now
about 2000 of these firms,

some of which have euphemistic names
like the Labor Relations Institute

and 75 percent of companies
facing organizing drives hire one,

spending nearly 340 million dollars
on them per year.

These firms offer
different levels of services.

For companies on a budget, some
offer massproduced anti-union videos.

You can even buy this one, featuring
a cartoonishly union organizer,

shot against a greenscreen,

so that you can customize it
based on your workplace.

They even produced samples
of what that could look like...

Listen, just sign the card.
Once a union gets here,

you wanna be
on the good side.

Just sign the card. Once a union gets
here, you wanna be on the good side.

Sign the card. Once a union gets
here, you wanna be on the good side.

I'll say this, at least they chose
outfits that'd fit in any workplace,

because we all know employees in
both corporate offices and warehouses

dress like a college football coach
whose wife just left him

and an "America's Next Top Model"
contestant before the makeover.

Although the backdrops clearly
could have been more creative there.

You've got a green screen,
the world is your oyster.

Why not show evil unionizers
mobilizing on a roller coaster

or on a tropical getaway,
or on the desert planet of Arrakis?

If you're going to force employees
to watch your bullshit,

at least take them on a cosmic journey
with sandy softboy space Jesus.

Whether it is coming directly from
a company or through an outside firm,

anti-union campaigns tend to follow
a pretty basic playbook.

And a go-to tactic is to highlight
that unions collect dues.

A point Delta Airlines made when
employees were considering unionizing

and they did it
in a pretty dickish way.

Delta Airlines causing a lot
of turbulence on the ground

after it told employees to buy
video games instead of unionizing.

One poster, here it is, says: "Union
dues cost around 700 dolalrs a year"

and then tells employees
to put their money

towards a video game system
with the latest hits.

The latest hits, you say!

Telling your workers to play
video games instead of unionizing

is incredibly condescending.

And doubly so when you consider
video game characters

are the ultimate example
of exploited labor.

They take orders all day,
usually get paid in coins

and not once in 36 years
of playing Mario

have I ever seen him get to take
a bathroom break. Not once!

The Mushroom Kingdom has to be
littered with piss bottles.

And you might say:
"Of course a union collects dues."

"How else are they going to have
resources to fight for their members?"

But these consulting firms will insist
that unions simply take money

and offer nothing in return.

Here is how
the Labor Relations Institute puts it

in one of its union busting videos.

Unions are in trouble.
Their membership is shrinking,

which means they're in danger
of going out of business.

They send out high-pressure
salespeople to sell a bill of goods

that most people believe is either of
no real value or is highly overpriced.

Okay, so, just to be clear,
that is a for-profit consulting firm,

being paid by a for-profit company,

arguing that unions
are only in it for the money.

That is pretty fantastic. It's not even
the pot calling the kettle black,

it's the pot calling the kettle
a pot.

It's like being called a bad first date
by Ted Bundy.

Now, LRI consultants
have also told employees

that joining a union might get
them a contract with less wages

and less benefits
than they currently have.

Think about
how ridiculous that argument is.

If companies genuinely thought

unions would negotiate
worse terms for their employees,

they'd be welcoming them in
with open arms.

Jeff Bezos would've shown up to that
interview in a Che Guevara T-shirt

if he thought it would help him
pay people less.

Because the truth here is,
unionized workers in the private sector

have wages about 25 percent higher
than their non-union counterparts.

That is why companies
want to keep unions out.

That is why they're willing to pay
LRI "3000 per consultant per day."

But the anti-union argument
isn't just that they are useless,

it's that they'll destroy the workplace
culture that companies have created.

Here is how Target framed it in one
of their union busting videos.

If the unions did try to organize
Target team members,

they could also try and bring along
their way of doing business,

an old-fashioned rigid structure.

No one knows exactly
what could happen,

but there are lots of examples of how
rigid grocery store union contracts

could hurt our store's ability
to serve guests.

Here's what we mean.

Let's say
you're working in stationery,

but you're walking through domestics
on your way to check on something.

A guest stops you and asks for help.
What would you do?

Without even thinking about it,

you'd stop and give them
any assistance they required.

What if union work rules say you
can't work outside of your department?

What do you tell the guest?
"Sorry, I can't help you."?

That makes you look bad.
But more importantly,

it means our guest
doesn't get immediate attention

and they might not come back.

So, everyone gets hurt.
Everyone except the union.

I like how they put that last part in
black and white, so we know it's bad.

We're talking "can't open a jar" bad.
There's got to be a better way!

But if I can just give the Target
executives one quick note:

have you ever worked retail?

Because if you had,
you would know

that telling your floor workers
they'd be able to tell a customer:

"Fuck off,
this isn't my department,"

is a pretty good argument
to vote yes on that union.

Honestly, that might be
worth it on its own.

And fun side note, those aren't
just actors, they're union actors,

members of the Screen Actors Guild.

That man later actually stressed
in an interview

that he's very much pro-union,
defending his appearance in the video

by saying: "If someone hires me to play
a rapist, does it make me a rapist?"

To which I have to respond:

And: "I guess not, but... what?"

The most frightening and effective
argument against unions

isn't just that they'll keep you from
helping customers in other departments.

It's that they'll cost you your job.
Now, thankfully,

it is against the law for companies to
threaten workers that if they unionize,

their workplace will close.

However, hilariously, it is legal for
them to "predict" that it'll shut down.

Which is obviously
not a real distinction.

When a loan shark
threatens to break your legs,

that's not meaningfully different

from a loan shark predicting
that legs will be broken

as a result of market forces
relating to lack of payment.

And that "prediction loophole"
can let a lot through.

Columbia Sportswear
brought in a consultant

who freestyled
to a captive meeting of workers

about what could happen
if they unionize.

I've seen the worst of it.

Doesn't always end up
going so badly, but I mean,

I've seen people, you know,
just completely bankrupted.

- Marriages lost, homes lost...
- Company closing.

Yes, sometimes that happens, too.
I mean, look at Detroit.

All the auto workers there,

tens of thousands of employees
lost their jobs overnight.

A level of fearmongering rarely seen
outside abstinence-only sex ed class.

Don't join a union,

unless you want to end up pregnant,
divorced, homeless and Detroit.

It's not just Columbia Sportswear.
When workers at a tire company,

called Kumho,
tried to unionize a few years back,

12 different managers issued threats
to close the plant if the union won.

Which is undeniably scary.
And the thing is, it worked,

because even though 80 percent
of Kumho workers

had initially signed cards
supporting unionization,

when the vote happened, a month
later, 43 percent voted to organize.

And that is the thing. Threats that
a workplace will close are effective,

despite being
overwhelmingly bullshit.

One study found

"51 percent of companies threatened
to close plants if unions won,"

"while just 1 percent closed operations
after a union victory."

It is the same story again and again,
and it can be dispiriting

for those who know just how much good
a union could do for their coworkers.

Listen to a woman who tried
to organize her Nissan plant

talk about how it felt
watching her union drive fall apart.

When we started this,
my whole line they were just: "Yes."

But when Nissan started bringing in
those anti-union videos,

I seen my coworkers just:
"Betty, I just can't do it."

Yeah, and that is heartbreaking.
And even on the rare occasion

workers manage to overcome everything
you have seen and win their election,

the fight still might not be over.

As a study found, in a quarter
of all successful union elections,

getting a contract
can take three years or longer.

While companies are supposed
to bargain in good faith,

they can legally draw things out
to a ridiculous degree.

In 2009, some Texas employees
at Dish Network voted to unionize,

but over "a decade later,
they still have no contract."

And think about how long ago
2009 was.

Back then, the kids on "Modern Family"
looked like actual children,

none were engaged to the bartender
from "The Bachelor" franchise.

In 2009, the question
on everyone's lips was:

"Is the guy from 'Degrassi'
really rapping now?"

And you really want me
to transport you back to that time?

I've got two words for you.
Susan. Boyle.

Remember how her whole thing was:

"We didn't expect someone who
looked normal could sing good?"

The point here is,
2009 was a long time ago,

and that is how ridiculously
long the employees of Dish Network

have been waiting
for a fair union contract.

And that actually brings us
to the final problem here.

Because far too often,

the consequences for anti-union actions
by companies are minimal to none.

Companies aren't supposed to retaliate
against workers who unionize,

but it happens all the time.

Take Cynthia Harper, who worked
at a factory that made windshields.

After she spoke up
in favor of a union,

she had a sudden and pretty
suspicious change to her job.

Ever since they started this job,
it's been a two-man job.

When they put me out here on it,

they decided they wanted it
to be a one-person job.

When I would talk to HR,
I told them they were targeting me.

Putting me on a job to set me up

to write me up
for performance issues and fire me.

Okay, that's pretty brazen, isn't it?

They took a job clearly for two people
and made her do it on her own.

And if you're gonna set her up
for failure, why stop there?

Why not just give her everyone's job?
Why not send the entire factory home,

with a note saying "Relax, everyone,
Cynthia's got this."

And the thing is, she was right.
Soon after that, she was fired,

along with two other
pro-union coworkers.

But the consequences for a company
doing that are just pathetic.

A company that wrongfully terminates
a worker for supporting a union

might be forced
to provide back pay,

but that on its own is a pretty
small price for them to pay

if it helps them crush a union.

And other punishments
are even weaker,

like the fact that, and this is true,
a company can be ordered

to post a notice on the bulletin board,
in which it admits it violated the law,

but also, and this is crucial,
promises not to do it again.

And come on!
A company should probably face

more consequences
for illegally union busting

than this dog, who clearly likes
to hump this cat.

And honestly, in both cases,

I doubt the sign is going to change
the underlying problematic behavior.

So, it is no wonder that U.S. employers
are charged with violating federal law

in over 40 percent
of all union election campaigns,

because why wouldn't they?

Even when those charges are proven,
the consequences are laughable.

One anti-union consultant
has flat-out stated:

"What happens
if you violate the law?"

"The probability is
you will never get caught."

"If you do get caught, the worst thing
is you get a second election"

"and the employer
wins 96 percent of second elections."

And it's not great that union-busting
firms are telling companies that.

But it's even worse
that it's fucking true.

So, what can we do here?

Congress could step in to help
rebalance the playing field.

The Protecting the Right
to Organize Act, or PRO Act,

would outlaw captive audience meetings
and enable unionized workforces

to seek arbitration
to settle a first contract,

meaning that companies like Dish
can't give them the middle finger.

Also, and most importantly, it'd put
real financial penalties in place

to prevent companies from violating
workers' rights without consequence.

But until that law is passed,
and it should pass,

one of the most important things
for workers to do

is to not get disheartened during
a campaign, which I know isn't easy.

But union busting is all about
killing momentum, splintering unity

and exhausting workers' spirits.

To the extent that it helps,

if you're in a workplace
that's unionizing right now,

and you're feeling pressured
or personally attacked,

remember, the company is almost
certainly following a script.

And you don't have to play the part
that they want you to.

And if, by some chance,

you're a corporate executive
who's made it this far into the show,

first, I'm almost impressed
that you're still here.

But second, please stop wasting money
on these anti-union consulting firms.

Instead, just use this video
that we made for you.

It's a lot cheaper, and it says
exactly what you really mean.

Don't even fucking think about it!

Hello. Thanks for watching
this mandatory company video.

You're here because someone may
have approached you about unionizing.

Or asked you to sign a union card.

Or simply said the words "living wage"
anywhere on company grounds.

Look, a union may work
for a lot of places,

but the thing is, here, we're a family
and you employees are children.

So, let's listen in on some
worker conversations.

Something we definitely
don't do in real life.

Bob! Did you know
if we brought on a union,

it'd be illegal for us
to talk to our bosses anymore.

No way. There's two things I love:
talking directly to my shift supervisor

and helping customers who are
in departments I don't work in.

Bad news, Bob. If the union
came in, you couldn't do that.

If a customer who's outside of
your department asks you a question,

you're legally required
to tell them to go fuck themselves.

If they ask a follow-up question, you'd
have to slap them with an open hand.

So, everyone gets hurt.
Everyone, except the union.

How could the union
possibly benefit from...

We don't think a union
is right for our workplace,

but ultimately, the choice
is always up to our employees.

We promise, no one will be fired
for wanting to unionize.

There is a chance you might
be fired for poor attendance.

A pretty good chance, actually.

But you won't be fired
explicitly for the union thing.

That's how we do it.

For the next few weeks,

you might notice a few extra
posters around the workplace.

In break rooms, stock rooms,

or glued to the back of a coworker.

You already went
to the bathroom, Ted.

These are just there
to tell you things.

Like how expensive
union dues are. 700 dollars?

Think of what else
you could buy with that.

Like a Nintendo Wii
with all the latest hits.

Or, I don't know, what else
do poor people like?

Poor people...

I know I've seen poor people.

Drugs. Buy and eat drugs!

Did you know when a union
enters a negotiation,

our wages could go up
or they could go down?

- Wait, our wages could go up?
- But they could go down.

- Realistically, they'll go up.
- But they could go down.

Without a union, what's stopping
them from going down now?

But they could go down.

Right, just technically speaking...

I want to talk to you
about your attendance.

Just remember, when it comes
to unions, the choice is yours.

When it comes to watching videos
like this about unions,

the choice is very much ours.

Did I say stop waving?

Moving on. Finally, tonight,
this is our last show of the season.

And it has been a tricky year.
We began it still stuck in the void

before finally managing to move
into this studio in September.

Despite the fact that we've been having
to operate under Covid restrictions,

we have still managed
to have some fun.

We infiltrated local news broadcasts
to sell a vaginal healing blanket,

we sold 10 000 teddy bears
to annoy a Belarusian strongman,

we entered a duck stamp contest and
were absolutely robbed on that.

We started our own
health care sharing ministry,

we forced a Minnesota car dealership
to produce the finest local car ad.

George Clooney appeared on the show
every time I snapped my fingers

and we almost welcomed a vaccine
cicada into our family of mascots,

which would have been the single
dumbest thing we have ever done.

We invited the vaccine cicada
to the final show tonight

in a "make it or break it" situation.

If he could do a dance in all the right
ways, maybe he'd deserve to be here.

But then we realized,
he deserves shit,

he's a dollar store beetle
in a crop top.

So, we sent him a text
telling him that the gig's off,

but he probably can't even hold a phone
in his, what are those, pinchers?


Look, the point is,
it was definitely a strange year.

And despite being back
in the studio, the fact is,

I still haven't seen most of
my staff since March of 2020.

Though I am definitely
looking forward to next year,

it has been difficult spending so much
of this one in isolation.

The truth is, it does
sometimes get me down a bit.

But you know what? I think
I actually might know someone

who could help me
feel a little bit better.

- Hey, John, what's up?
- Hey, George.

I was thinking about the things
I wanted to do but haven't been able to

and all the people that I wanted
to see, but couldn't. You know?

You're feeling down, huh?

Yeah. You could say
it's an intolerable cruelty.

So, what kind of reaction
did you want from me on that?

I don't know. I was hoping that you
might be able to cheer me up a bit.

Yeah. I'm not supposed to do this,
but you seem more pathetic than usual.

That's harsh, but also fair.

For the next few minutes,

I'm going to give you the power to
summon any celebrity with that snap.

Really? George,
that is absolutely fantastic news.

Thank you so much!
I promise I will not misuse this power.

Yes, you will. But the beauty is,
you only have a few minutes, so, go!

I mean, this is great!
This is so exciting!

I feel slightly better already,
but let's not waste any time on this.

Let's see who we get first!

Jennifer Coolidge!
Jennifer, hi!

It's Jimmy Kimmel!

No, it's not. It's John.
My name's John.

- Jimmy, I love your show.
- Thanks.

Do you want me
to do a mean Tweet?

- That's a different show, Jennifer.
- Is Questlove there?

That's a different Jimmy.

- Wait, are you the British one?
- Yes! That's me!

I'm the British one!
Yeah, that's me!

Do you want me
to get in a car and sing?

For fuck's sake.

- Hey, Will! How're you doing?
- Hey, John, what now?

I've got a really funny story for you.
George Clooney gave me the power

to summon any celebrity that I want
with the snap of a finger.

He did that again? He gives
that power away to anyone.

Last week I got summoned by a guy
who sold Clooney a pack of Trident.

That makes me feel significantly
less special.

RuPaul! Hey, Ru!

I'm sorry, my dear, but it's time
for you to sashay away.

I'm not a contestant on your show.
It's me! It's John Oliver.

I thought it was one of the queens
dressed up as a marionette doll.

No, Ru.
Just me and my actual human body.


I mean, that was fun.
That was definitely fun.

But I guess there is no point
in stopping if we've still got time.

Let's see who else we can get.
Holy shit! Cardi B!

- Hi, Cardi!
- Who said that?

- I'm John, but...
- Alexa?

No, not Alexa, I'm John Oliver.
It's lovely to meet you.

- I never thought we'd get to speak...
- Alexa? FBI?

Forget it.

Surprise! Listen, your little
brother Billy reached out to me

and told me that it is your birthday.

This is freaking huge.
That's what she said!

- Brian, sorry...
- Holy shit.

No. The Cameos never talk back.

Yeah, Brian, I think
there's been a misunderstanding,

I didn't order a Cameo from you,

I snapped my fingers
and now we're talking...

John, if this isn't a Cameo,
just get the fuck out of my phone.

Kevin from "The Office"
does not mess around.

All right, one more push.
Here it goes!

Cardi, it's me again.
Sorry. I'm sorry, Cardi.

Siri, tell Alexa to stop.
Alexa, stop.

There's nothing to stop here.

I've got it, don't worry.

Void, great to see you!

Hey, John. Decent to see you, as well.
I can't really talk at the moment,

I'm hosting my own talk show now.

- Really?
- Yeah, kinda busy.

That's great!

Yeah, apparently HBO Max
liked the vibe of this space

and they just thought it would be
better suited for a comedy show.

- And not what you were doing.
- I get it. You're being mean to me.

Thank goodness. Leslie,
I'm so glad it's you.

- Nah!
- What do you mean, no?

What are you talking about, no?
Hey, it's John. Leslie...

I don't want this.
I don't want to be part of this.

- Alakazam.
- Part of what? We're just talking.

- How do I get rid of you? Go away!
- Don't clap me away!

It's not even a clap anyway,
it's a snap!

You've just got to snap your fingers.
Just snap your finger.

- The white man won't leave!
- I will, I'll leave!

Time's up! How was it, John?

People were pretty relentlessly
mean to me, George. But honestly?

- It was kind of great.
- I knew it would be.

Remember, just because this year didn't
work out like you thought it would,

that doesn't mean that shamelessly
bringing in celebrities for the finale

wouldn't cheer you up.

Because? Say it with me!

Celebrities make
everything better,

except in the many situations
where they do not.

- That's right. And hey, John.
- What?

Goodnight and good luck.

That's it. I do feel
20 percent better now, at least.

Thank you so much
for watching our show this year.

We all really appreciate it.
We'll see you next year.

Please stay safe until then.

Do you want me to get in a car
and sing?

I'm a smooth operator.

Thank you.

You ain't no hollaback, y'all!

Thank you.

I don't know.

Hey, everybody, welcome
to "White Void Tonight".

I'm the void. Let's dive straight in
with the key question of the week:

what went wrong
with "Space Jam 2"?

People think the main flaw was
LeBron's acting, but the key issue

was its fundamental misunderstanding
of Bugs Bunny as a character.

The climax involves
Bugs Bunny learning a lesson?

Bugs Bunny doesn't learn lessons.

Let those fucking nerds
at Pixar learn lessons.

Sorry. Excuse me.

Is your entire show breaking down
your problems with "Space Jam 2"?

No, this is just the fun bit
at the top of the show.

There's also a main story coming up.

It just seems like a weird way
to start a show, is all.

Excuse me?

You're the one who does 20-minute
monologues about factory farming.

So, maybe take a look at yourself.

- Fair enough. All right. Carry on.
- If you don't mind.

- You want me to...
- Go ahead. Go.

Have a good show.

- Bye.
- I'm leaving.

Sorry about that, folks. Anyway,
our main story concerns jet fuel.

- No!
- Specifically the fact it can't...

- Don't you do it! Void.
- ... melt steel beams.

- Because 9/11 was an inside job!
- No!