Center for Union Facts

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The Center for Union Facts (CUF) 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.

News and Controversies

CUF Retains CGCN to Lobby Congress to Pass Anti-Union Bill

CUF has retained CGCN to lobby for it's anti-union bill: "Employee Rights Act" (ERA).[1] "Earlier versions of the ERA failed to leave the 112th, 113th and 114th Congresses. Hatch re-introduced S.1774 into Congress in September. It currently has 22 co-sponsors, including Sens. Lamar Alexander (R-TN), Marco Rubio (R-FL) and Ted Cruz (R-TX)," according to O'Dwyers.

CGCN (formerly known as Clark Geduldig Cranford & Nielsen) was founded by former National Republican Congressional Committee communications director Steve Clark.

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."[2]

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 website TeachersUnionExposed.com, which have been erected 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 the campaign said was 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.[6]

The Center for Union Facts spent $212,904 in lobbying in 2011 and $947,192 in total lobbying from 2008-2011. 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.[7]

The Center for Union Facts campaigns against "Worker Centers," which represent the interests of employees who work in non-unionized industries like fast food and taxis. A July 2013 Fox News report, "Unions by another name? Lawmakers question rise of 'worker centers'," complains that these Worker Centers do things like campaign for higher minimum wages. The report quotes a Heritage Foundation representative calling Workers Centers "fronts" for unions. In September 2013, the ,,Wall Street Journal,, published an op-ed written by CUF Executive Director Richard Berman, titled "The Labor Movement's New Blood". CUF's LaborPains.org blog reprinted the op-ed. The op-ed describes the Worker Center movement as a sinister plot to get around restrictive labor-organizing rules, warning, "The final goal, though, is still unionization." CUF has set up a Worker Centers website as part of its campaign.

A 2015 Berman op-ed in the right-wing Washington Times, "Labor board overreach," complains that the National Labor Relation Board (NLRB) has issued new rules making it easier for working people to organize unions. In the op-ed, Berman claims the new rules are "ensuring a steady flow of union money to Democrats' elections and party bank accounts while providing a flood of dues money into nonprofit organizations that support the leftist agenda." The op-ed supports a Republican bill, The Employee Rights Act (ERA), to make it more difficult for employees to unionize. This website promoting the bill is a project of the Center for Union Facts.

Richard Berman published a February 2017 Fox News op-ed titled "The inconvenient truth Big Labor doesn’t want to share with America" celebrating that unions are facing declining membership numbers. In the op-ed, Berman claims this is occurring because employees "resist" union organizers, yet acknowledges that "a majority of U.S. states have now passed right-to-work laws." The op-ed calls for a "National Right to Work Act" to further decrease the power of labor.

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."[8]

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."[9]

Berman's Non-Profits

A November 1, 2012 article in Bloomberg shows CUF 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

Another Rick Berman Front Group

The Center for Media and Democracy's 2017 exposé on the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation revealed that the foundation is funding numerous front groups set up by Berman & Company. From the CMD series:[10]

"Bradley is bankrolling multiple Berman front groups along with groups across the nation that are working to 'defund Big Labor' and to destroy unions, the most significant advocate for higher wages and better working conditions in America. Berman was caught on tape telling prospective funders: 'I get up every morning and I try and figure out how to screw with the labor unions' and 'marginalize the people on the other side,' as CMD helped reveal in 2014....
"More recently, Bradley has funded another Berman front group to 'expose Big Labor's strategies and tactics, including in the policymaking arena.' Materials included in the Bradley files as examples of Berman's work are a series of print ads accusing teachers of treating kids like garbage and ads that liken teachers' unions to roach traps (Center for Union Facts, Grant Proposal Record, 1/10/2015)." [See the grant proposal embedded at right.]

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."[11]

CMD's 2017 exposé on the Milwaukee-based Bradley Foundation[10] revealed that the foundation gave CUF $2,240,000 between 2006-2015.

Bradley Files

In 2017, the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD), publishers of SourceWatch, launched a series of articles on the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation, exposing the inner-workings of one of America's largest right-wing foundations. 56,000 previously undisclosed documents laid bare the Bradley Foundation's highly politicized agenda. CMD detailed Bradley's efforts to map and measure right wing infrastructure nationwide, including by dismantling and defunding unions to impact state elections; bankrolling discredited spin doctor Richard Berman and his many front groups; and more.

Find the series here at ExposedbyCMD.org.

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."[12]

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. 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."<ref="dfp">"Detroit Free Press, May 24, 2006.</ref>

Core Finances

2015[13]

  • Total Revenue: $2,788,885
  • Total Expenses: $1,919,902
    • Compensation to Richard Berman, President and Executive Director: $30,000
    • Payments to Berman & Co. for "advert., research, lobbying & acct": $753,643
  • Net Assets: $3,477,356

2014:[14]

  • Total Revenue: $1,210,511
  • Total Expenses: $1,371,482
    • Compensation to Richard Berman, President and Executive Director: $21,338
    • Payments to Berman & Co. for "advert., research, lobbying & acct": $561,990
    • Reported spending on lobbying: $25,063
  • Net Assets: $2,689,181

2013[15]

  • Total Revenue: $689,253
  • Total Expenses: $1,125,600
  • Net Assets: $2,849,743

2012[16]

  • Total Revenue: $3,470,790
  • Total Expenses: $3,106,011
  • Net Assets: $3,286,090

2011[7]

  • Total Revenue: $3,239,543
  • Total Expenses: $1,379,036
  • Net Assets: $2,921,311

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.

Contact Information

  • Employer Identification Number (EIN): 20-4036946

The Center for Union Facts
1090 Vermont Ave NW, Suite 800
Washington, DC 20005
Phone: (202).463.7106
Fax: (202).420.7862
Email: longwell@unionfacts.com
Website: http://www.unionfacts.com
Blog: http://laborpains.org
Twitter: @Union_Facts
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/UnionFacts/

Articles and Resources

Related PRWatch Articles

Related SourceWatch Articles

Other Berman Front Groups

External Resources

External Articles

References

  1. Jon Gingerich, Watchdog Wages Anti-Union Lobbying Salvo, O'Dwyers, November 8, 2017.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Kris Maher, Anti-Union Group Takes Message to the Airwaves, Wall Street Journal, May 19, 2006.
  3. Steven Greenhouse, "Clash Nears in the Senate on Legislation Helping Unions Organize," New York Times, June 20, 2007.
  4. Center for Union Facts, "No Reason for Elections?," organizational website, archived by the Wayback Machine on March 17, 2011.
  5. AFT Facts, About, Center for Union Facts website.
  6. Deborah Mcdermott, Groups lodge anti-union campaign: Employee Free Choice Act the subject of ads, Seacoast Online, August 17, 2008.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Center for Union Facts, 2011 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, November 12, 2012.
  8. Center for Union Facts, Teachers Union Exposed Ads page, TeachersUnionExposed.com, accessed June 13, 2014.
  9. 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.
  10. 10.0 10.1 Mary Bottari Bradley Foundation Bankrolls Front Groups of Discredited PR Spin Doctor Richard Berman, Exposed by CMD, May 9, 2007.
  11. Monsters and Critics, Anti-union group launches media campaign, blog, February 13, 2006.
  12. Kim Chapman, New group launches anti-union drive, Bloomberg News, February 13, 2006.
  13. Center for Union Facts, 2015 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, June 5, 2017.
  14. 14.0 14.1 Center for Union Facts, 2014 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, November 19, 2015.
  15. Center for Union Facts, 2013 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, November 11, 2014.
  16. Center for Union Facts, 2012 IRS Form 990, Internal Revenue Service, November 11, 2013.
  17. Center For Union Facts, The Center for Union Facts Launches Multimillion-Dollar Campaign and Comprehensive Website to Expose, press release, February 10, 2006.