As featured on p. 218 of "Bloggers on the Bus," under the name "a MyDD blogger."

Saturday, January 31, 2009

Labor Gets In The Game

The pushback on anti-union lies has been a long time coming.

I’ve just obtained an advance copy of a new TV ad that a labor group is launching to promote the Employee Free Choice Act, labor’s top priority — a spot that pushes back against the arguments being made by anti-EFCA forces.

But here’s the rub: A key target audience of the ad is Beltway journalists. The ad — to be launched by David Bonoir’s American Rights At Work — is set to run inside the Beltway this Sunday on networks and cable during the political chat shows.

The new ad partly represents an effort to get reporters, opinion-makers and members of Congress to stop mis-representing a key aspect of Employee Free Choice: The question of whether it would eliminate the so-called “secret ballot,” by which workers vote on whether to join a union.

Opponents of EFCA have tried to argue that the measure would eliminate the secret ballot option completely, as a way of painting the measure as undemocratic.

But proponents point out that the Employee Free Choice Act wouldn’t do that at all. Rather, it gives employees a choice between joining a union simply by having a majority sign up for one; or by holding a secret election.

And this is as it should be. It's not necessarily the fault of journalists - labor has not been out there in force defining the terms of the debate, and so the right wing anti-union forces stepped into the vacuum. For all of their huff and puff, they didn't change a lot of minds. And if the debate can be successfully re-framed, perhaps public opinion will move even more in the direction of free choice.

I think labor is being a little naive over how much they can influence the media, however. The Beltway crowd is pretty much predestined to reprint whatever Rick Berman and the Center for Union Facts sends their way. The "eliminate the secret ballot" meme got out in front early, and labor folks are dirty hippies to the Beltway gang (imagine!), so that may be a losing battle.

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