AFL-CIO launches ‘Join a union’ ad campaign

WASHINGTON—The AFL-CIO has launched a national print and digital “Join a union” ad campaign, complete with quarter-page ads in top national and regional newspapers.

The point, federation President Richard Trumka says in an open letter to all workers – the centerpiece of the drive – is to tell workers if they want decent raises, better benefits, and a voice on the job, unionizing is the way to go.

“Join us — be a part of the fight to build a brighter future for you, your family and working people everywhere,” his open letter reads.

“JOIN TOGETHER! — If you are interested in hearing how you and your co-workers can join together to win better wages and working conditions — and respect on the job — contact a union organizer today!” it urges.

Both the letter and the digital campaign direct readers to a new website, The website has information both on benefits of unionization and on the continuing drive by rich corporate interests to rob workers of their rights.

The key narrative in that anti-worker drive is a Supreme Court case, Janus vs AFSCME, where unions expect the 5-man GOP-nominated court majority to make every state and local government worker a potential “free rider,” able to use union benefits and services without paying one red cent for them.

That ruling will rob unions of at least 726,000 members nationwide and millions of dollars in fees just to cover contract bargaining and enforcement, a recent report by the labor studies center at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana says. And the average public worker – who comprise just under half of all unionists – would lose more than $1,800 in yearly wages as “free riders” defect.

“The court case was funded by the Koch brothers to deprive teachers, firefighters and other public-sector workers of their freedom to join together,” Trumka’s letter adds. Actually, a wide group of corporations and lobbies have banded together for decades to fund the so-called National Right to Work Committee and its legal defense fund, which in turn funded the Janus case.

The website “also offers resources for forming a union and information about ongoing organizing campaigns,” the fed said. Those organizing drives the fed cites include recent rank-and-file led teacher mass mobilization – including strikes – in red states West Virginia, Kentucky, Oklahoma and Arizona for more money for schools and textbooks, as well as teacher and staffer pay.

The print ad ran in USA Today, the Washington Post and regional newspapers in Florida, Illinois, Michigan, Minnesota, Nevada, Ohio, Pennsylvania, Wisconsin and Massachusetts.

“From the boardroom to the steps of the Supreme Court, a dark web of corporate interests is trying to stop us with everything it has,” Trumka wrote. “But no matter what any CEO or lobbyist does, we’re standing up for the freedom to join together in a union.”


Mark Gruenberg
Mark Gruenberg

Award-winning journalist Mark Gruenberg is head of the Washington, D.C., bureau of People's World. He is also the editor of the union news service Press Associates Inc. (PAI). Known for his reporting skills, sharp wit, and voluminous knowledge of history, Mark is a compassionate interviewer but tough when going after big corporations and their billionaire owners.