New York State workers who were recently passing through the Empire State Plaza’s concourse encountered 10 union-busting elves and a sad-suited Santa.

Anti-labor group representatives portray Santa and elves at the Empire State Plaza concourse.

“Santa” and the “elves” weren’t there to spread holiday cheer — their goal was to target public employees and pressure them to quit their union.

These representatives of anti-labor groups were met by CSEA members who don’t need a gimmick to tell the truth — it’s better to be union.

Anti-labor groups have been using the holiday season to shamelessly push their agenda to gut unions, including visiting union members’ homes and using the pressure of a tighter budget during the holiday season to try to get union members to quit.

“These anti-union groups have been using gimmicks to try to manipulate our members into quitting our union,” CSEA President Danny Donohue said. “They may think their costumes are cute, but their message is not. They want you to give up your rights and protections.”

Their efforts haven’t worked — our union is staying strong because our members are proud union members.

Unwelcome visitors
The anti-union operatives are being paid $25 per hour to travel around the country to try to get union members to quit.

They recently spent about 10 days in the Capital Region, working 12-hour days and staying in a local hotel.

Their effort included home visits, advertising in several venues and eventually the Empire State Plaza concourse visit.

When anti-labor representatives visited our members’ homes, they were met with strong resistance from many CSEA members.

Members who opened their door were asked to confirm their identity and work locations, despite this information now being protected under an executive order signed by the governor in late June.

Our members reported that the representatives had information on their phone, including a flow chart to guide talking points. To say the encounters went “off script” would be an understatement.

CSEA members who were not at home were left with a glossy flier promising an early Christmas present of $500 if they quit our union.

Staying union strong
Anti-labor representatives took a break from home visits to gather at the Empire State Plaza concourse, a busy area that connects state agency buildings that includes restaurants and other businesses frequented by employees.

On the concourse that day, the aggressive elves and the sad-suited Santa approached anyone they could find to coax them into a short-sighted conversation about extra money for the holidays.

Left out of their “Christmas present” conversations is what the future would look like without unions.

Our members happily filled in the blanks.

Once word spread that the group was on the concourse, an impromptu group of CSEA activists quickly went to the area to offer counter-points to the groups’ misleading messages.

Our members also handed out fliers and “Proud Union Household” decals for union members to put on their windows and doors at home.

“It’s funny because they kept saying they are here to educate people, but our members educated them,” said CSEA Capital Region President Ron Briggs. “In the face of this direct attempt to weaken our collective power, our members stood up, showed what solidarity looks like and shared what unionism means to them. Members know that the only way we lose power is if we give it away!”

— Therese Assalian


About Author

Therese Assalian

Therese has been working as the Capital Region Communications Specialist since 2002 handling all facets of internal and external communications for the region. Therese started her career at a Madison Avenue Public Relations firm and held several positions in public relations, marketing and event planning in corporate and non-profit roles in New York and Pittsburgh prior to moving to the Capital Region in 1999. Therese holds Bachelors and Masters degrees in Communication Studies and is also a published freelance writer on travel, food and the arts.

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