Union Local Set To Air Out Its Image

Afscme Chapter Targets Cable Spots To Citizens

January 14, 1992|By Elise Armacost | Elise Armacost,Staff writer

The county's unionized blue-collar workers are looking for a little respect. And they're taking to the airwaves to get it.

Within the next two to three weeks, the American Federation of State, County andMunicipal Employees, Local 582, will begin airing a series of 30-second spots with the county's three cable television companies, all designed to enhance the image of the men and women who pave the roads and lay the sewer pipes in Anne Arundel.

"Right now, it's bad," said Local 582's vice president, Jim Bestpitch, who came up with the idea for the commercial campaign. "People see us as somebody who sits around sleeping."

The commercials -- two different spots have been produced so far by Dundalk Community College's labor studies program -- will show county employees at work, Bestpitch said. "We're trying to educate citizens on the quality of services they get for the money," he said.

The spots also will show workers doing good deeds in the community -- providing prizes and hotdogs for the county's Halloween party, working with the elderly, helping the disabled.

Though national labor unions have been advertising on television for some time, Local 582 is probably the first union in this area to produce its own commercials, said Jack George, director of the labor studies program.

Bestpitch said he thought of TVduring last year's salary negotiations, when County Executive RobertR. Neall persuaded county workers to forgo cost of living increases.

"We were treated so poorly," he said, "and management kept throwing it up in our face, 'Why should citizens pay for this or that?' Thequality of services was not being recognized; the only thing being recognized was the money."

Local 582's members approved the commercial campaign about three months ago, Bestpitch said.

The union paid DCC several hundred dollars to film the commercials. Now, it must purchase packages from the three cable companies. The union wants to buy about 60 30-second slots during a one-week period, several times ayear, starting in North County, Bestpitch said.

Pat Daley, account executive for North Arundel Cable Co., said it costs $281 for a package of 63 commercials over seven days. The other companies, Jones Intercable Inc. and United Cable of Annapolis, charge similar fees, shesaid.

Next year, Bestpitch said, Local 582 wants to air a series of new commercials focusing on awards won by union employees.

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