Summary: This commercial, which aired during half time of the 2012 Super Bowl, represents a direct attack against unions and is an excellent demonstration of the use of ideology to promote false consciousness. The supposed union workers in the ad complain about unions taking such high union dues and state that they did not vote for the union (suggesting that they don't want the union and that it does not represent their interests). The commercial's narrator explains "only 10% of people in unions today actually voted to join the union" and encourages people to support the Employee Rights Act, a bill that would make it much harder for workers to join unions, and easier to de-certify existing unions. The commercial was created by the anti-union Center for Union Facts, an astroturf organization founded by DC lobbyist Richard Berman and supported by big business interests (astroturf organizations are advocacy groups promoting a political or corporate agenda but designed to make it appear like a grassroots movement). Its statistics may be accurate, but they are misleading in the sense that federal law requires that at least 50% of a company’s workforce vote in favor of the formation of a union, and that most current union members have joined unions formed years before. Furthermore, according to independent analysis by the Economic Policy Institute, laws like the Employee Rights Act hurt workers by leading to lower pensions; workers in unions actually have higher wages and health benefits because they can use their collective bargaining power to improve their working conditions (note that one of the union "actors" in the video is also played by Berman himself). This demonstrates the use of ideology, or the dominant ideas that help to perpetuate the oppressive class system. Marx argued that “The ideas of the ruling class are in every epoch the ruling ideas … The class which has the means of material production at its disposal, has control at the same time over the means of mental production.” In this case, we see that the advertisement (which cost about $3.5 million to air during the Super Bowl) produced by large corporate-funded organizations is meant to shape workers' perception of unions in a negative light. With greater wealth ("the means of production") and access to media ("the means of mental production"), they seek to discourage workers from joining unions in hopes of making them easier to control. When workers accept such ideas as truth, it promotes false consciousness. False consciousness occurs when a class does not have an accurate assessment of capitalism and their role within it, but instead adopts the ideology of the ruling class, and acts against their own class interests.
Submitted By: Paul Dean