Rick Berman's Employee Freedom Action Committee Expands Inaccurate And Offensive Ad Campaign

July 08, 2009 6:46 pm ET

Last week, the Employee Freedom Action Network has launched an ad campaign targeting centrist senators whose votes could be crucial in reaching cloture on the Employee Free Choice Act.  After targeting Sen. Ben Nelson (D-NE) last week, EFAC is now going after Arkansas Sens. Blanche Lincoln and Mark Pryor.  In addition to its offensive portrayal of union representatives as mobsters, the ad falsely claims that "unions want federal bureaucrats to take away your personal rights."

False Ad: "Unions Want Federal Bureaucrats To Take Away Your Personal Rights"

Joe: Well, I know we've talked about the review, and I think I deserve a five percent raise.

Boss: Joe, I agree.

Union Rep: Whoa, whoa, whoa! That's not what he wants. What he wants is a two percent raise, plus funeral benefits, guaranteed smoke breaks, and triple overtime for Superbowl Sunday.

Joe: Funeral benefits?! I don't care about that stuff. I want a five percent raise.

Union Rep: If we don't get this stuff, our member Joe here is just going to have to go out on strike.

Boss: Strike?

Narrator: Union bosses want federal bureaucrats to take away your personal rights. Call Senator Nelson and tell him there's no compromise on the Employee Forced Choice Act.

The Employee Free Choice Act Doesn't Take Away Workers' Rights, It Restores Them

NYT: "The Bill...Would Make It Easier For Workers To Join Unions." Rather than eliminating the right of workers to organize through secret-ballot elections, the Employee Free Choice Act gives workers the additional right to form unions through majority sign-up. As explained by the New York Times, "the bill...would make it easier for workers to join unions by requiring that employers recognize a union if a majority of employees at a workplace sign cards indicating they wish to organize." [New York Times, 12/29/09]

HRW: "The Employee Free Choice Act...Is A Human Rights Imperative." According to Human Rights Watch, "Despite its clear obligations under international law to protect workers' right to freedom of association, the United States fails to do so. US labor law is weak and riddled with loopholes. Penalties for violations are minimal and further emasculated by systematic and lengthy enforcement delays. The Employee Free Choice Act...would remedy many of the most pernicious legal shortcomings. Its passage, therefore, is a human rights imperative." [Human Rights Watch, "The Employee Free Choice Act: A Human Rights Imperative," January 2009]

The Current System Has Failed American Workers.  Forty prominent economists signed on to a statement released by the Economic Policy Institute, which said: "The institutions that govern the labor market have also failed, producing the unusual and unhealthy situation in which hourly compensation for American workers has stagnated even as their productivity soared. Indeed, from 2000 to 2007, the income of the median working-age household fell by $2,000 - an unprecedented decline. In that time, virtually all of the nation's economic growth went to a small number of wealthy Americans. An important reason for the shift from broadly-shared prosperity to growing inequality is the erosion of workers' ability to form unions and bargain collectively." [Economic Policy Institute, 2/24/09]

Worker Pay Has Not Kept Up With Economic Growth.  According to the Center for American Progress Action  Fund: "Prior to the 1980s, productivity and workers' wages moved in tandem - as workers produced more per hour, they saw a commensurate increase in their earnings - but this link between economic growth and the well-being of the middle class has broken down.  From 1980 to 2008, nationwide worker productivity grew by 75 percent, while workers' inflation-adjusted average wages increased by only 22.6 percent - meaning that workers were compensated for only a small share of their productivity gains. Higher union wages reward workers for a larger portion of their productivity gains." [Center for American Progress Action Fund, March 2009]

CEO's Are Rewarded For Worker Productivity.  As noted by the Center for American Progress Action Fund, "Today, CEOs rather than workers are rewarded for growth in the economy. CEO pay has skyrocketed from 27 times more than the average American worker's wages in 1973 to 344 times higher today. Increased unionization will mean that workers rather than CEOs are rewarded for increases in labor productivity."  [Center for American Progress Action Fund, March 2009]

Workers and Businesses Are on Unequal Footing

Employers Often Try To Prevent Union Elections.  According to American Rights At Work, "As soon as workers file a petition with the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) to hold an election, employers often try to prevent the vote from ever taking place; in four out of 10 cases, workers who ask for an NLRB-supervised election don't ever get a chance to vote." [American Rights At Work, "The Employee Free Choice Act: Ensuring the Economy Works for Everyone," December 2008]

Union Elections Are One-Sided And Unfair. Under current law, businesses are easily able to interfere with and influence the outcome of secret-ballot elections. According to the Economic Policy Institute, "Anti-union campaign managers can campaign with every worker, throughout the workplace, and around-the-clock. Pro-union employees can campaign only on break time. Management can require employees to attend 'captive audience' anti-union meetings. Pro-union workers can be forced to attend - but denied the opportunity to speak out. Management can post anti-union messages on the workplace's walls and bulletin boards. But pro-union employees cannot make use of these facilities." [Economic Policy Institute, 1/29/09]

  • Employer Interference Is Real. In a 2000 study, Kate Brofenbrenner, director of labor education research at Cornell University, found that 92 percent of employers "force[d] employees to attend mandatory closed-door meetings against the union," while 78 percent "force[d] employees to attend one-on-one meetings against the union with their own supervisors." [Brofenbrenner via AFL-CIO, accessed 4/14/09]

Businesses Are Able to Intimidate And Fire Workers Who Try To Organize Unions.  As Rep. George Miller (D-CA) notes, "Unlike employers, a union organizer can't fire you, cut your pay, or deny you a promotion. But, if you're an employee actively trying to organize your coworkers, you have a one in five chance of getting fired by your employer for simply exercising your democratic rights. Even a pro-business group could only find 42 cases of union deception and/or coercion in obtaining card signatures over the last 70 years. Contrast that with roughly 30,000 workers who received back pay from employers that had fired or illegally intimidated them for each year of the Bush administration. It's clear where the problem lies." [House Committee on Education and Labor, "EFCA: Fact vs. Myth," accessed 4/14/09]

  • CEPR: Up To One Out Of Five Union Organizers and Activists Likely To Be Fired. In a 2007 study of illegal firings during union election campaigns from 1974-2005, the Center for Economic and Policy Research found that "from about 2000 on...the rate of illegal firings jumped sharply." The report concluded, "If one-in-ten supporters is an activist or an organizer, our calculations suggest that in 2005, union organizers and activists face a 15 to 20 percent chance of being fired." [Center for Economic and Policy Research, January 2007]
  • One Worker Every Eighteen Minutes Disciplined Or Fired For Union Activity. The National Labor Relations Board found that more than 29,000 people were disciplined or fired for union activity during fiscal year 2007. As noted by the Economic Policy Institute, that amounts to "one worker every 18 minutes." [NLRB Annual Report 2007, accessed 4/14/09; Economic Policy Institute, 1/29/09]