Anti-Union Hispanic Radio Ads Cause Consternation In California


As Hispanic radio continues its rapid growth within the industry, major agricultural organizations in California have invested millions in Spanish-language radio advertisements aimed at discouraging farmworkers from participating in union elections.

The initiative, spearheaded by the California Farmworker Information Center, a nonprofit established in 2023 by leaders from the Western Growers Association, California Fresh Fruit Association, and California Citrus Mutual, targets a 2023 California law facilitating easier union voting for farmworkers.

According to May 2023 filings with the California Attorney General’s Office, the group spent nearly $2 million on public education and advertising efforts in 2023 and plans to spend an additional $1.8 million over the next two years. The United Farm Workers, a leading union, has noted the presence of these ads on 14 different Spanish-language radio stations in key agricultural regions like Bakersfield, Fresno, Monterey, and Salinas, and on audio streaming services.

The ads, which have been broadly disseminated across various radio stations and digital media platforms for nine months, have been critiqued for spreading misinformation, with claims that unionization could lead to wage deductions and loss of voting rights, assertions disputed by labor experts.

The crux of the issue lies in the content of the radio advertisements, which labor experts and union representatives have criticized for spreading misleading information. The ads suggest negative outcomes of unionizing, such as deductions from wages due to union dues and a loss of traditional voting rights. These messages are seen as a direct response to legislative changes aimed at making it easier for farmworkers to unionize by allowing them to sign a card in support of union representation, a method known as “card check.”

According to the Sacramento Bee, the UFW has countered these messages by filing an unfair labor practice charge against the California Farmworker Information Center with the Agricultural Labor Relations Board, alleging that the ads misrepresent union dues and suppress voter participation.

Despite the backlash, representatives from the California Farmworker Information Center maintain that their efforts are educational, aimed at informing workers about the implications of the new law without taking a direct stance on unionization. However, the scope and nature of the campaign suggest a strategic attempt to sway farmworkers’ opinions against unionization through fear and misinformation.

This controversy highlights the increasing use of Hispanic radio by major organizations and political parties to reach an increasingly powerful demographic. A 2023 study by Katz Media Group showed 47% of Hispanic listeners are more likely to purchase products or engage with brands and causes advertised on their favorite radio stations.


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