Union Campaign to Boost Image of Public Workers

By Sam Hananel | January 14, 2011 | 11:35 AM EST

Washington (AP) - Union leaders plan to launch a multimillion dollar campaign to boost the image of government workers and change a political climate that has tilted against organized labor in dozens of states.

Officials at the AFL-CIO say unions plan to get their message out with phone banks, public rallies, and stepped-up lobbying efforts in at least a dozen state legislatures.

The scope of the effort is unusual in a non-election year. It signals a growing concern that unions could lose significant clout, especially in states where legislatures are now under Republican control.

Cash-strapped states from New York to California want to freeze wages or cut pension benefits of public employees to help balance budgets. Other states may take away the right of unions to use payroll deductions for political purposes.