Labor Watchdog: Ad Spiked to Please Union ‘Clients’

Center for Union Facts: ‘Apparently City and State is just for sale’

August 28, 2015

A labor watchdog is claiming that a New York newspaper refused to run an advertisement because of its support from unions.

The Center for Union Facts attempted to place a centerfold ad in City and State, a public affairs magazine and website operating out of New York City, drawing attention to a lack of diversity in the Empire State’s construction unions. CUF said in a release that the publication spiked the ad as a "business decision" because of City and State’s relationship with several of the union heads.

"I’ll be perfectly frank with you, I mean, the ad specifically mentions, you know, six to eight clients of ours and it was basically a business decision that, you know, in mentioning those clients and people we’ve had longstanding relationships with that it makes it a little bit difficult to run that," publisher Andrew Holt told a CUF ad buyer in a phone conversation, according to a recording of the call obtained by the Washington Free Beacon.

Holt initially informed CUF’s ad buyer of the rejection in an email. That message does not mention or allude to any existing business relationship between the publication and trade unions.

"I am writing this note to inform you that we will be unable to accept / place the center-spread placement for the ‘Organized Labor’ edition of City & State magazine. This decision was made after discussion between myself and the president of the company Tom Allon. Sorry to inconvenience you and your client and for the delayed notice," Holt said in the email.

Holt declined to comment about the allegation or answer questions regarding conflict of interest. He said the publication was within its right to decline any advertising it sees fit.

"We do not comment on our business decisions, but will simply point out that every media company sets standards for acceptable advertising," he said in an email.

The ad, titled "Male, Pale, and Stale," features the headshots of nearly two dozen builder union executives. It was set to be published in a special Labor edition of the magazine.

"The ad is in response to a diversity campaign being run by the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York, that claims the unions are diverse and welcoming to women and minorities. However, as the CUF ad points out, every single leader of the Building and Construction Trades Council of Greater New York is a white male," CUF said in a release.

City & State brands itself as a "must read" and the "only media company devoted solely to covering government and politics in New York."

"City & State now provides insightful and detailed coverage of the politics, the policies and the people of influential individuals and organizations all over New York," the site says. "The magazine is an absolute must read for people who need to know exactly what is happening in New York politics and policy. Also, featured within are interviews with leaders in politics, media and advocacy, offbeat items that show the human side of a serious business, as well as every issue of the magazine we highlight specific industry or policy areas that focus on the intersection of business and government."

The outlet features a prominent Labor section under the Policy section of its website. CUF executive director Rick Berman said that the decision to spike the ad raises questions about the publication’s credibility. The underlying "business decision" claimed by Holt shows that "Apparently City and State is just for sale," Berman said in a release.

"We’re disappointed that City and State doesn’t have the backbone to run an ad that would have been controversial among its union clients. This is why the unions are able to maintain such a death grip on so many of our institutions, organizations like City and State are easily intimidated in the face of union power," he said. "They would rather restrict open and honest debate about labor unions in America than risk making their union clients uncomfortable. This is a cowardly move on the part of the City and State."

Published under: Unions