FRANKFORT — A Washington-based group with Kentucky advisers is running ads in the state against Democratic U.S. Senate candidate Bruce Lunsford for his support of a bill dealing with union workplace elections.
The TV and radio ads are part of a larger, eight-state campaign against candidates who support a bill that would allow a work force to unionize without holding a secret ballot election, said J. Justin Wilson, managing director for the Employee Freedom Action Committee.
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He emphasized that the non-partisan, non-profit group is not associated with Republican incumbent U.S. Sen. Mitch McConnell's campaign against Lunsford.
The group's ads accuse ”some union bosses and their politician friends“ of wanting to do away with secret-ballot elections. They contend that employees could be ”exposed to intimidation“ in joining a union.
The latest ad from the group can be seen at EmployeeFreedom.org.
Miller said support of the bill in question was ”a litmus test“ for Lunsford and other candidates to garner union endorsements.
The bill would permit certification of a union when a majority of employees have signed union membership cards.
Lunsford's campaign press secretary, Cary Stemle, said the ads ”are just another example of big-money interests that Mitch McConnell is so very much wrapped up in.“
Stemle predicted that the groups' ads are ”just the tip of the iceberg of what we are going to see from outside special interests made up of people in power who want to hold on to power.“
State AFL-CIO President Bill Londrigan said the ads ”are misleading and are an attempt by an anti-labor front group to divert attention from this terrible economy.“
”They are trying to scare people in this year's election to benefit McConnell,“ he said.
The U.S. House last year approved the bill opposed by the Employee Freedom Action Committee, but it died in the Senate with McConnell's help.
”It would give workers the option for a secret ballot or a majority sign-up to create a union,“ Londrigan said. ”The bill is necessary to give workers a level playing field with businesses.“
Londrigan noted that some of the steering committee members in Kentucky for the Employee Freedom Action Committee are frequent campaign contributors to Republican candidates.
He mentioned Bill Stone, president of Louisville Plate Stone Glass Co., and Fred Mudge, retired chairman of R.J. Corman Railroad Group.
Londrigan said Stone, Mudge and steering committee member Doug Alexander, executive director of the Lexington-based Commonwealth Progress Council and press secretary for the late Gov. Wallace Wilkinson, ”were architects of the ill-fated right-to-work bill that former Gov. Ernie Fletcher tried to push to hurt unions.“
Right-to-work legislation would allow workers to take jobs without joining unions or paying union fees at labor-represented workplaces.
Other steering committee members from Kentucky with the Employee Freedom Action Committee are state Rep. Jim DeCesare, R-Rockfield in Warren County; Shad Sletto, a Northern Kentucky Realtor with Huff Realty; and Warren Rogers, president of W. Rogers Company in Lexington.
Other special interest groups already have run ads in Kentucky's race for the U.S. Senate. The Sierra Club has run radio ads against McConnell, who has also has been the target of MoveOn.org supporters.