Treasury Employees Launch Pro-Federal Worker Ad Campaign

WASHINGTON (PAI)—Saying it’s time to “change the conversation” about federal workers and their jobs, the National Treasury Employees Union is launching a pro-federal worker public service ad campaign, union President Colleen Kelley says.

The year-long drive, the union’s third such effort in five years, will cost $40,000 for distribution and tracking on broadcast stations.  Kelley expects it will play in 90% of the top 100 markets, as NTEU’s last drive did.  That drive got 292 million individual “audience impressions” during its run, she told a Feb. 12 press conference.

The 30-second and 60-second spots feature regular federal workers saying “Without us, you couldn’t be sure Grandma’s medicines are safe”, “Without us, you couldn’t make sure tax cheats pay their fair share” and “Without us, more illegal drugs would be on your streets,” among other points.  The ads link to www.withoutus.org.

            “Getting an ad during the Olympics or the Super Bowl would be great, but the cost would be prohibitive,” Kelley said wryly.  Those ads cost millions of dollars per spot.

            NTEU’s ads don’t refer to any particular federal legislation or issues, Kelley said.  That’s because the issues change constantly on Capitol Hill, and because NTEU wants to change the general perception of the feds.

Lawmakers who use federal workers as a favorite whipping boy – and the fact that taxpayers have short memories – shape that negative perception, she admits.  Taxpayers take feds for granted until something goes wrong or the government shuts down.  But once it reopens or the problem is fixed, interest fades, Kelley contends.

In that sense, to alter the perceptions, the Treasury Employees’ ads differ from approaches other federal worker unions take.

The American Federation of Government Employees, for example, emphasizes a raft of specific issues – ranging from better arms for federal corrections officers to raising the minimum wage – both on Capitol Hill and out in the field through local campaigns.

And AFGE plans to enlist aid from its union allies in the AFL-CIO, via state federations and local labor councils.  NTEU, which is independent, will go it alone, but Kelley says the approaches are complementary.  Just the emphasis differs, she adds.

“We’ll work with AFGE on the importance of the work many federal employees do,” Kelley explains.  “Our local leaders and members appreciate being the stars of the messaging, putting a face on” the federal functions.  “It’s something that’s personal, and a building block.”