"It's the most fundamental American right there is - the right to vote," one of the ads says. "But American Airlines is doing everything it can - both legal and not - to block 10,000 passenger service agents from voting to form a union."
The ad buy for the campaign, which will run for at least two weeks, was in the low six figures. The ads are appearing online on The Nation's website and in print and online with Politico. CWA also took out Facebook ads, targeting American Airlines employees and Facebook users in American's hub cities.
The two sides disagree over whether enough American employees supported a vote on unionizing to hold the election, and American, which is in bankruptcy proceedings, has filed a lawsuit to stop the election.
"American Airlines stands by its decision to seek a court ruling on whether the decision to authorize a union election for American's agents and representatives was legally permitted," American spokesperson Missy Cousino said in a statement to the Alley, adding that "this is an unprecedented issue ... that merits a court review before any election takes place."
Shane Larson, CWA's legislative director, said the ad campaign was meant to show lawmakers and the public that American is trying to stop the workers from unionizing. It is part of a larger advocacy campaign that has included grassroots work, Hill briefings and lobbying, and the issue has caught the attention of some Democratic lawmakers. Several, including Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, have written American Airlines calling for the election process to proceed.
"It is troubling that a company in bankruptcy, which should be endeavoring to cut waste, may be using its limited resources incurring fees in new litigation solely to suspend the election process and deny workers the right to choose for themselves whether or not to have union representation," a May 31 letter from House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi and other House members says. It argues that it makes sense American passenger service workers would want to unionize given the uncertainty created by the bankruptcy proceedings.
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