Center for Union Facts

From SourceWatch
Jump to: navigation, search

This article is part of the Center for Media & Democracy's spotlight on front groups and corporate spin.

The Center for Union Facts is a secretive front group for individuals and industries opposed to union activities. It is part of lobbyist Rick Berman's family of front groups including the Employment Policies Institute. The domain name www.unionfacts.com was registered to Berman & Co. in May 2005.

Berman's Non-Profits

A November 1, 2012 article in Bloomberg shows CCF in the following chart of non-profits created by Berman & Co. at the center of an IRS complaint filed in 2012 (used with permission):

11022012 Berman-kr-01.png

Campaigns

Video ads by the Center for Union Facts portray union organizers as thugs who invade workers' homes to intimidate them into joining.

In May 2006 the Center for Union Facts launched its first TV ad campaign. The 30-second spot, running on Fox News and local markets, has "actors posing as workers" saying "sarcastically what they 'love' about unions," like paying dues, union leaders' "fat-cat lifestyles," and discrimination against minorities. The ad campaign cost $3 million, which was raised "from companies, foundations and individuals that Mr. Berman won't identify." [1]

The group planned to film another TV ad in June 2006. Labor and economics professor Harley Shaiken said the effort "to create an anti-union atmosphere" more generally, as opposed to business-funded ads against a particular union organizing drive or strike, "is a new wrinkle." An AFL-CIO spokesperson called the ad's accusations "unfounded and outrageous." [2]

In June 2007, the group campaigned heavily against the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation which "would give employees at a workplace the right to unionize as soon as a majority signed cards saying they wanted to do so." The Center for Union Facts has spent "$500,000 on newspaper and broadcast advertisements this week alone," reported the New York Times on June 20, 2007. [3] The group's print ads for the campaign compared union leaders to Ugandan dictator Idi Amin and Iranian president Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, calling the bill a "scheme to eliminate workers' right to a secret ballot." [4]

The Center for Union Facts is behind the billboards with the web site TeachersUnionExposed.com which have been put up around Newark, New Jersey[5].

In August 2008, the group's "political arm," the Employee Freedom Action Committee, ramped up its campaign against the Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA). It launched a $30 million campaign, including radio, television, print and online ads and "a substantial grassroots organizing effort." The group's anti-EFCA ads were slated to run in Maine, New Hampshire, Mississippi, Kentucky, Louisiana, Colorado, Oregon and Minnesota. At the same time, the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, which is comprised of "virtually hundreds of businesses, chambers of commerce and trade associations," was also spending millions to defeat the bill. "The folks behind the ad campaign fear that if Sen. Barack Obama, an Employee Free Choice Act sponsor, is elected president and power shifts to the Democrats in the Senate, the bill will become law," according to a New Hampshire paper. [1]

In 2011, The Center for Union Facts spent $212,904 in lobbying, and $947,192 in total lobbying from 2008-2011.[2]

In 2011, CUF also spent $870,182 on its president's company, Richard Berman and Company Inc., for "advertising, research, lobbying & accounting," according to its 2011 tax return.[3] They also spent $125,851 advertising on Fox News.

Teachers Union Exposed Runs Full-Page Ad Calling for Legal Action Against Education Laws

On June 12, 2014, the Center for Union Facts ran a full-page ad in USA Today under the name of its front group website Teachers Union Exposed. The ad called for legal action against education laws, citing the court case Vergara v. California, in which some of California's teacher tenure and firing laws were ruled unconstitutional. It depicted a child inside a trash can and read:

"How can you stop teachers unions from treating kids like garbage? Sue. Unions are protecting incompetent teachers by keeping them in the classroom. This week, a California court ruled that protection of incompetent teachers is unconstitutional. Can't change the laws to protect kids? Then sue. It worked in California."[4]

AFT Facts Runs Full-Page Ad in New York Times Condemning American Federation of Teachers

On December 10, 2013, the Center for Union Facts, under the guise of its front group website AFT Facts, ran a full-page ad in the New York Times in which the organization condemned the American Federation of Teachers and its president, Randi Weingarten. The ad asserted that, as American students' exam rankings slip in comparison to other countries, the AFT and Weingarten protected bad teachers while failing to reward better teachers, saying:

"We have fallen behind Latvia, Estonia, and Vietnam in science and math. The teachers union continues to protect incompetent teachers and refuses to reward outstanding teachers with merit-based pay. Randi Weingarten, head of the American Federation of Teachers, fights against reforms that would help fix our failing schools."[5]

Personnel

The contact person on the initial media release is Sarah Longwell who has worked in public relations for Rick Berman at his Employment Policies Institute as well as for the Intercollegiate Studies Institute and its Collegiate Network.

Funding

United Press International noted that "the group's spokesman refused to release the names of its donors or say where its funding came from." [7]

In 2011, the Center for Union Facts reported $3,239,543 in total revenue, and $3,238,574 in gifts, grants, and contributions received.[7]

Berman told Bloomberg reporter Kim Bowman in 2006 that he had raised "about $2.5 million from companies, trade organizations and individuals, whom he declined to identify." [8]

Sarah Longwell, a spokeswoman for the Center for Union Facts, echoed Berman's groups standard claim for secrecy on who funds their front groups. "The reason we don't disclose supporters is because unions have a long history of targeting anyone who opposes them, whether it be in a threatening way or by lodging campaigns against them," she told Detroit Free Press. [9]

The paper reported that while Wal-Mart Stores denied funding the group it stated that "it has a relationship in which it exchanges union information with Berman, the group's head." [10]

Contact details

The Center for Union Facts
1090 Vermont Ave NW
Suite 800
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: (202) 463-7106
Fax: (202) 420-7862
Email: Sarah Longwell (longwell AT unionfacts.com)
Web: http://www.unionfacts.com
Blog: http://laborpains.org

Articles and Resources

Related PRWatch Articles

Related SourceWatch Articles

Other Berman Front Groups

External Resources

External Articles

References

  1. Deborah Mcdermott, "Groups lodge anti-union campaign: Employee Free Choice Act the subject of ads," Seacoast Online (New Hampshire), August 17, 2008.
  2. Center for Union Facts, 2011 990 IRS Form, organizational document, accessed May 8, 2013
  3. Center for Union Facts, 2011 990 IRS Form, organizational document, accessed May 8, 2013
  4. Center for Union Facts, Teachers Union Exposed Ads page, TeachersUnionExposed.com, accessed June 13, 2014.
  5. Center for Union Facts and Enterprise Freedom Action Committee, Full-Page Ad in The New York Times: AFT Refuses to Reward Excellent Teachers, Protects Incompetence Instead, LaborPains.org, December 10, 2013.
  6. Center for Union Facts, 2011 990 IRS Form, organizational document, accessed May 8, 2013
  7. Center for Union Facts, 2011 990 IRS Form, organizational document, accessed May 8, 2013