Nov. 5, 2018

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Labor coalition launches 'Union Strong' ad campaign

uupdate 11-5-18

Hey, New Choice NY, the biggest public sector unions in New York have a few words for you.

Nine words, actually, and the message is unmistakable: we’re Union Strong.

UUP is part of a coalition of New York unions that purchased billboards in Albany, Buffalo, Rochester and Syracuse to combat a recent ad blitz by New Choice NY, an anti-union group that began targeting unionists just days after the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the legality of agency fee with its June 27 decision in Janus v. AFSCME Council 31.

The New York State AFL-CIO, NYSUT and PEF are also coalition members. Coalition ads will begin appearing on buses in the Capital Region later this month. The ads will run through January 2019.

“We’re proud to be a part of this union coalition, which is fighting back against the misinformation being disseminated by groups like Bad Choice New York,” said UUP President Fred Kowal. “Groups like these don’t care about union members or their First Amendment rights. They have one goal, and that is to break unions.

“But unions are tenacious,” he continued. “We stand tall with our sisters and brothers and we will defend working families against any attacks on our members or our union sisters and brothers.”

Billboard strong

Digital billboards in Albany, Buffalo and Rochester went on line Nov. 5. Billboards in Syracuse and a second Albany billboard are set to go live Nov. 11.

The first Albany billboard, above, is on I-787 south heading into the City of Albany, just before the Clinton Avenue exit. The Rochester billboard, below, is on I-490 south at Mt. Read Boulevard. The Buffalo billboard, not pictured, is on the Kensington Expressway, just before Route 198.

uupdate 11-5-18

The billboards carry a simple, direct message: Union Strong. The billboards use seven words to tout the importance of being in a union: Better wages, better benefits, better working conditions. Each billboard carries the logos of the unions.

The union coalition ad campaign is in response to a fall radio and billboard ad campaign by New Choice NY, one of a multitude of anti-labor groups that cropped up popped up days after the Janus decision.

According to The Philadelphia Inquirer, New Choice NY is linked to the Pennsylvania-based Americans for Fair Treatment; one of its board members is the CEO of the Commonwealth Foundation, a right-wing think tank backed by donors tied to the billionaire Koch brothers.

Based in Albany, New Choice NY has targeted UUP members in several newspaper op-eds; UUP responded with an op-ed in the Albany Times-Union. New Choice sent hundreds of emails to UUP members—using their work addresses—urging them to quit UUP and pocket the 1 percent they pay in dues.

Under Janus, bargaining unit members can take salary increases and benefits collectively bargained by unions for free, without paying fees or union dues. But a large majority of union members haven’t done this; many of them believe it’s wrong to take union-negotiated benefits for free.

In October, UUP reached record-breaking levels of membership; 95 percent of full-time bargaining unit members have joined UUP. Overall, 88 percent of bargaining unit members have joined the union.

In a record-breaking tally, nearly 98 percent of members eligible to vote cast ballots Sept. 5 to ratify UUP’s new six-year contract with the state.

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