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Center for Union Facts

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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.

Contents

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 agains 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]

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]

Berman told Bloomberg reporter Kim Bowman 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
PO Box 27455
Washington, DC 20038
Phone: 202-463-7106
Email: Sarah Longwell (longwell AT unionfacts.com)
Web: http://www.unionfacts.com

Articles and resources

Related SourceWatch 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.

External resources

  • "The Center for Union Facts Launches Multimillion-Dollar Campaign and Comprehensive Website to Expose", Media Release, January 10, 2006.
  • The Center for Union Facts, "The Center for Union Facts Positions Huge Dinosaur Outside AFL-CIO", News Release, February 13, 2006.
  • "Union Facts Calls on Wal-Mart to Begin Funding Education Campaign", Media Release, May 27, 2006.
  • Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW)'s web site, www.BermanExposed.org

External articles

  • "Anti-union group launches media campaign",United Press International, February 13, 2006
  • Amy Joyce, "Full-Page Ads Launch Anti-Union Drive - Lobbyist Aims to Show Labor Groups to be 'Duplicitous'", Washington Post, February 14, 2006.
  • Steven Greenhouse, "Group Starts Anti-Union Campaign", New York Times, February 14, 2006.
  • Kim Chapman, "New group launches anti-union drive", Seattle Post Intelligencer, February 14, 2006. (This is a syndicated Bloomberg story).
  • Kris Maher, "Taking on the AFL-CIO", "Incident Report", Wall Street Journal, February 13, 2006.
  • Kortney Stringer, "Antiunion ad campaign in Detroit's face today", Detroit Free Press, May 24, 2006.
  • WakeUpWalMart.com, "New Evidence Shows Wal-Mart Working Closely With Right Wing Attack Group, Says WakeUpWalMart.com", Media Release, May 26, 2006.
  • Marcus Kabel, "Wal-Mart denies funding anti-union ads", Businessweek, May 26, 2006. (This is an Associated Press story).
  • American Rights at Work, "Center for Union Facts", Profile, accessed June 2011.
  • American Rights at Work, "Who Is Rick Berman?", accessed June 2011.
  • Steven Greenhouse, "Clash Nears in the Senate on Legislation Helping Unions Organize," New York Times, June 20, 2007.
  • Michael P., "Metro Center Advertising - Front Groups ," blog "Infosnack Headquarters," September 24, 2008.
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