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

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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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On Labor Day, a New TV Campaign for the Employee Free Choice Act

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September 1 is Labor Day — a day to celebrate America’s workers. Our country has celebrated Labor Day for more than a century as an official national holiday, a day to honor those who work to build America. Unfortunately there hasn’t been much to celebrate for Labor Day lately; the middle class is being gutted, income inequality is the greatest since 1928, and only 12% of our workforce can say they’re members of a union. Let’s just say the last 8 years haven’t helped, either.

But starting Labor Day 2008, workers’ rights advocacy group American Rights at Work is taking to the airwaves with a national TV ad campaign for the Employee Free Choice Act. You can see the ad — part of a $5 million effort — on CNN and MSNBC, and in 7 states: Alaska, Louisiana, Maine, Minnesota, Mississippi, New Hampshire, and Oregon. The state-based ads will focus on educating the public on the positions’ of political leaders, and urging the public to call them to express their support for the legislation in the Senate.

The Employee Free Choice Act is a bill that will take on the critical issues facing America’s struggling middle class by making it easier for people to form or join a union. One of the main aims of the bill is to bring back balance to the workplace; right now, even if 100% of your coworkers wanted to join a union, your CEO could veto your decision. What the Employee Free Choice Act does is take away CEOs’ veto power, giving workers a free choice to have a union if they want it.

It passed the House last year and got 51 votes in the Senate before it was blocked by a Republican filibuster (a vote for which John McCain actually showed up…to vote against the bill).

Our ad campaign also comes out to set the record straight in response to anti-union, corporate-funded front groups stopping at nothing to mislead the American public about the Employee Free Choice Act. The corporate special interests that are against improving workers’ standard of living do not represent a majority of the public. A poll released last week by the nonpartisan Drum Major Institute found that 68 percent of middle class Americans wish their member of Congress had voted in favor of the bill.

We need the Employee Free Choice Act because we need more America to have more union members. When unions are strong, the economy is strong. Not only do unions you the ability to negotiate in your workplace, but they lift up even those who aren’t union members. And get this: if you have a heart attack, you’re 5.5% more likely to survive if your nurse is a union member.

So during this Labor Day season, take the time to reflect on America’s workers, past and present, and how they’ve helped our country. Then get ready to help make our economy work for everyone again by joining our campaign for the Employee Free Choice Act. (And if you like our ad, chip in to help keep it on the air.)

About the Author: Michael Whitney is a progressive Internet strategist and web producer who got his start in online politics as one of the co-founders of Generation Dean, the youth outreach organization of Howard Dean’s presidential campaign. Now he coordinates the new media efforts of the workers’ rights advocacy group American Rights at Work, where he’s worked since 2004. Michael says, “Rush Limbaugh called me “clueless” once. He went into rehab two days later. I win!”

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