Outten & Golden: Empowering Employees in the Workplace

SEIU Demands Corporate Lobbyists Take Down Deceptive Ads on Employee Free Choice Act

July 14th, 2009 | Michael Whitney

Today the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) sent letters to television stations in Nebraska and Arkansas demanding that deceptive ads about the Employee Free Choice Act be taken down immediately. The ads are paid for by the Employee Freedom Action Committee (EFAC), the political action committee of anti-worker front group Center for Union Facts.

Said SEIU Political Director Jon Youngdahl:

“Arkansans and Nebraskans are losing their jobs, their benefits and their retirement security, yet the same greedy CEOs and corporate lobbyists who helped tank the economy aren’t satisfied.

“Now, they want to take away workers’ rights to bargain for better working conditions and higher wages. In order to do so, they’re reduced to creating vicious and false ads that portray union members as mobsters. They need to stop this deceptive ad campaign and remove these lies from the air.”

In a letter sent to television stations in both states today, SEIU debunked the false claims made in EFAC’s ads, writing in part:

The ad falsely claims that organized workers do not have a say in negotiations over their wages and benefits, when nothing could be further from the truth. It is unorganized workers who have no mechanism to negotiate with their employer over their wages and benefits. At the same time, union members typically vote on whether to ratify their contracts.

Moreover, the ad falsely implies that employers are handing out raises to their employees with the union that is standing in the way, when the exact opposite is true. The fact is that union workers have higher wages and better benefits than non-union workers, which is why more than half of all workers–nearly sixty million–would join a union if they could. Indeed, according to the Center for American Progress Action Fund, union workers earn significantly more on average than their non-union counterparts, are nearly 54 percent more likely to have employer-provided pensions, and are 28 percent more likely to be covered by employer-provided health insurance. In 2007, union workers earned 30 percent more on average than non-union workers.

On Thursday, Media Matters also deconstructed the ads, deeming the campaign “inaccurate and offensive.”

EFAC, like its affiliated organization Center for Union Facts, is run by corporate lobbyist Rick Berman. Berman, former labor counsel at the US Chamber of Commerce, is a virulent anti-worker and anti-consumer activist. According to a profile of Berman on NPR:

Berman’s firm also runs the American Beverage Institute, which argues that drunk driving is over-hyped; the Center for Consumer Freedom, which argues that the obesity “epidemic” and mad cow disease, among other things, are over-hyped; and the Employment Policies Institute, which advocates against minimum wage increases.

View the letter below:

Letter to Arkansas TV Stations re: Inaccurate Advertising

Michael Whitney: Michael Whitney is an online organizer with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU). Michael manages the online campaign for the Employee Free Choice Act as part of SEIU’s Change that Works program. He got his start in online politics on Howard Dean’s presidential campaign as one of the co-founders of Generation Dean, a web-based youth outreach organization. Michael is a contributor to techPresident.com, the Huffington Post, and his overly active Twitter feed.

This article originally appeared on SEIU Blog on July 10, 2009 and is reprinted here with permission from the source.

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