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The Metropolitan Transit Authority, the operating body that oversees New York City public transportation, is removing subway ads from Amalgamated Bank that call for a $15 minimum wage, Crain's New York Business reports. The MTA says they ads are in violation of a six-month-old rule against political advertisements.

(I saw this happening with my own eyes this morning during my commute!)

An MTA spokesperson told Crain's the ads were mistakenly approved by the contractor that handles MTA marketing, the Manhattan-based Outfront Media.

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Amalgamated Bank, which is the largest majority-union-owned bank in the United States, had bought a four-week buy; with the ads coming down by the end of business Friday, they got close to three. Keith Mestrich, the bank's CEO, is livid.

“It's outrageous that the MTA would ban an ad that promotes giving New Yorkers a living wage,” Mestrich said in a statement to the New York Daily News. “The #RaiseTheWage campaign is not about politics, it's about giving the people of New York a fighting chance, and Amalgamated Bank is very proud to support and promote this important campaign.”

The MTA adopted a "neutral-viewpoint" advertising strategy in April, citing a desire to “maintain a safe and welcoming environment” for its employees and customers, as well as to "avoid spending resources to resolve disputes." Amalgamated is not the first group to bristle with the MTA's new strategy. From the Daily News:

Earlier this month, ads from the Freelancers Union calling for legal protections for self-employed workers had to be removed from the subway system when MTA caught wind of them. And a federal judge last week said the MTA was wrong to ban humorous ads from Muslim comedians who wanted to promote their film with posters poking fun at Islamophobia, while allowing promotions for a Republican presidential debate.

Mestrich said that the ads have run in the New York Times as well as at Amalgamated branches without incident. “We’re looking at all of our legal options at this point,” he told the business journal.

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The Amalgamated CEO raised his employee's minimum wages to $15 an hour in August and has publicly called for other banks to follow suit. “We’re a for-profit institution with a mission to fight for economic and social justice.”

You can read the MTA"s advertising policy (via Crain's) below.

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