November 26, 2015
By Joe Maniscalco
New York, NY – Amalgamated bank CEO and living wage advocate Keith Mestrich is calling on the MTA to rethink the controversial ad policy that nixed bank ads supportive of the Fight for $15 movement – but accepted subway commercials for an Amazon.com television show packed with fascist imagery.
Subway ads promoting Amazon’s “Man In The High Castle” series came down this week — but only after Governor Andrew Cuomo reportedly ordered their removal. Prior to that, however, the MTA said the ads covering the 42nd Street Shuttle were in accordance with new advertising rules the agency adopted in April.
The same, however, could not be said for the Amalgamated Bank ads that the MTA scrapped in October for allegedly violating the agency's new "no politics" advertising policy. The Amalgamated Bank ads expressed support for a living wage.
Last August, Amalgamated Bank became the first bank in the nation to institute an immediate $15 an hour minimum wage for all its employees. And Mestrich has gone on to urge the rest of the banking industry to follow suit.
“It seems like every couple of weeks there’s a new controversy around subway ads, and this latest one just further proves that the MTA's ad policy needs to be reviewed and redefined,” Mestrich told LaborPress. “The fact that our #RaiseTheWage ads promoting a living wage for New Yorkers were pulled for being “too political," yet these ads deemed totally acceptable, shows that their guidelines fall outside the realm of common sense. If the MTA is going to continue to run on ad revenue, I hope they’ll get serious about establishing a consistent, uniform policy.”
The Amalgamated Bank ads are only one of a handful of advertisements the MTA has rejected since instituting its "no politics" ad policy in April. Amazon’s questionable ads were not among them — until the governor stepped in.
The MTA relies heavily on the approximately $130 million it generates in advertising revenue each year, and is actively trying to increase that figure.
Any revision the MTA's "no politics" advertising policy would require action from the agency's executive board. Officials say the policy remains in place this week, and that steps to revisit it have not been taken.