02/07/2012 09:26 am ET Updated Nov 29, 2012

Super Bowl Ad Offends Working People

During this year's Super Bowl, many Americans were subjected to a biased piece of political advertising by D.C. corporate lobbyists that was offensive to working people.

An anti-worker front group calling themselves the "Center for Union Facts" aired a distasteful and misleading ad promoting a piece of legislation called the "Employee Rights Act" which would, in reality, weaken longstanding law protecting the rights of workers to organize.

Unions have long ensured that the rights of workers are protected and their interests are represented in negotiations with management and in issues before the local, state and federal government. Corporations can and do spend millions of dollars to make their case to the government. They use their outsized resources to influence laws in ways that directly affect the pay, benefits and protections of workers. Individual working people are simply not able to do so, but through the power of collective bargaining unions have been able to represent the workers interests and help level the playing field.

Union advocacy led directly to increased wages, better working conditions, safer working environments and a higher standard of living for all Americans. That is why unions are an essential American institution.

Unions are chosen by workers as their bargaining representative, and they exist for the benefit of workers. At least 50 percent of workers must vote to create a union, and the dues unions collect are subject to federal and state laws.

Workers who do want to form unions face difficult obstacles. In 34 percent of union election campaigns, employers target workers they see as union organizers. When workers show signs that they want to organize, employers routinely engage in a host of illegal tactics, like threatening workers or threatening to close the plant.

The goal of this misleading advertising is to spread misperceptions about unions so that workers will not join them, and the implication is that workers will be better off. But eliminating unions would not save workers money or in any way improve their position. In fact, in so-called "right to work" states, the workers are actually worse off. "Right to work" laws cost workers an average of $1500.

American workers have suffered in the last few years in the wake of the worst recession since the Great Depression. Corporations have already rebounded, in many cases reporting record profits. Meanwhile, the wages of American workers have been stagnant for the last 40 years. We ought to be strengthening the rights of American workers, not weakening them with slickly produced, misleading ads.