SEATTLE (CN) – A labor group claims in court that a public transit agency unconstitutionally refused to post its paid ad on trains: “Let’s Make All Airport Jobs Good Jobs,” by claiming that “political type ads” are not allowed on trains and buses.
Working Washington, a nonprofit coalition, sued the Central Puget Sound Regional Transit Authority aka Sound Transit, in Federal Court.
Working Washington says that in March it paid Sound Transit’s agent, Clear Channel, $1,037 to run its ad on light rail trains.
“The proposed advertisement contains the tagline, ‘Let’s Make All Airport Jobs Good Jobs,'” the complaint states. “This advertisement was and is intended to draw public attention to the problem of low wage jobs at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport (‘Sea-Tac Airport’) by highlighting the difference between ‘first class’ and ‘coach class’ airline passengers, on the one hand, and ‘poverty class’ workers employed at Sea-Tac Airport on the other. As an illustration of this ‘poverty class’ of workers, the advertisement features a photograph of a skycap named Hosea Wilcox, who is identified in the advertisement as receiving only ‘minimum wage’ after having been employed at Sea-Tac for 31 years.
“Publication of this advertisement in and on its public transit vehicles was authorized by and consistent with defendant Sound Transit’s advertising policy.
“Publication of this advertisement by Sound Transit was also consistent with Sound Transit’s prior decisions relating to similar advertisements, including advertisements which it has previously run at Working Washington’s behest. For example, from October 17, 2011, through November 17, 2011, Sound Transit ran advertisements for Working Washington on its buses that bore the taglines, ‘Our Bridges Need Work. So Do We,’ and ‘Stand Up for Good Jobs.'”
Working Washington says that Clear Channel, which is not a party to the complaint, accepted payment for the ads on March 7, but “changed its mind” two weeks later.
“On or about March 20, 2012, Sound Transit, through Clear Channel, changed its mind regarding the contract which it had previously entered into with plaintiff. Specifically, on that date, Clear Channel informed plaintiff that ‘Sound Transit is not allowing political type ads on their buses or trains.’
“Subsequent to that date, despite repeated requests by plaintiff, Sound Transit has refused to accept or publish the ‘Let’s Make All Airport Jobs Good Jobs,’ ad which it had previously agreed to accept.”
Working Washington says Sound Transit is violation its First Amendment rights, and wants an injunction ordering immediate publication of the ads.
It is represented by Dmitri Iglitzin, with Schwerin Campbell Barnard Iglitzin & Lavitt.