Labor groups hope to turn public disgust with Wall Street practices and executive businesses to their favor by airing TV ads linking those groups with forces opposing the pro-union Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA), prompting business groups in turn to produce response ads.
"Who's behind the opposition to the Employee Free Choice Act?" asks the new ad, which first aired last Thursday on MSNBC. "It's the same corporate executives and Wall Street millionaires whose greed and irresponsibility led to our nation's economic crisis--the same people who are looking for taxpayer-funded bailouts even as they lobby to prevent workers from bargaining for a better life."
The ad is called "GREED" because those letters are used to attack what it calls "the Wall Street way of doing business," starting with the notion that "Getting rich is everything" and ending with "Don't let workers get ahead."
"The public and lawmakers alike need to know that the special interests opposing the Employee Free Choice Act are the same ones who caused this economic meltdown," the AFL-CIO said in a blog report. "This new ad sends a resolute message that now is the time to help workers to bargain for a better life. The Employee Free Choice Act is urgently needed to create fairness in this economy."
To drive home their point, the AFL-CIO says it is staging more than 300 pro-EFCA public events nationwide during the Congressional recess last week and this week. And a second, more upbeat ad that also began airing recently, promoting EFCA as a way to improve workers' lives and boost the economy. The The Wall Street Journal says pro-EFCA groups have spent more than $10 million in ads for EFCA since late fall.
Meanwhile, the Journal says, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce is launching a $1 million TV advertising campaign--on top of an estimated $30 million in lobbying expense in recent years--attacking EFCA. The ads will run in Nebraska, Virginia, Louisiana, North Dakota, and Colorado--states with senators regarded as potential swing votes.
As previously reported, the legislation under consideration--H.R. 1409 and S. 560--would require that an employer recognize a union's bid to represent workers if a sufficient number of employees check off a card indicating they want union representation. As a result, it's also referred to as the "card-check bill." Currently, virtually all organizing campaigns end up being settled by a secret ballot of employees.
Labor unions have declared this issue their top priority for 2009, while business groups have been just as adamant against it. The National Lumber & Building Material Dealers Assocation made opposition to EFCA one of its three key talking points when members came to Washington last month for the group's annual legislative conference.
Despite enjoying support from President Obama and the House of Representatives, EFCA as currently written is unlikely to win passage because its backers have not as yet been able to corral the 60 votes needed to defeat any attempt by opponents to filibuster the bill to death on the Senate floor. As a result, supporters are working on compromise language, several of which were summarized by The American Prospect magazine. To date, there has been no notable progress reported on those discussions.