Center for Union Facts
- Location: Washington, D.C.
- Tax-Exempt Status: 501(c)(3)
- EIN: 20-4036946
- Website: http://www.unionfacts.com/
The Center for Union Facts (CUF) is a corporate-backed front group working to dismantle labor and teacher unions across the country, all while neatly disguised as a resource for workers, employees and the public. CUF is the brainchild of notorious PR man-for-hire Richard Berman — appropriately nicknamed Dr. Evil — and is part Berman’s network of non-profits working to advance the interests of Berman’s corporate clients.
Berman founded the group in 2006 and serves as its president and executive director. While he refuses to name CUF’s corporate backers, he claims it has received funding from companies, trade organizations and individuals. Wal-Mart, the nation’s largest employer (one known for his opposition to unions), denied giving funding to the group, but according to the Detroit Free Press, admitted in 2006 that it “has a relationship in which it exchanges union information with Berman.” In 2014, Berman told the Western Energy Alliance, “I get up every morning and I try to figure out how to screw with the labor unions — that’s my offense. I am just trying to figure out how I am going to reduce their brand.”
The outfit’s stated mission is to “educate the public on U.S. and international labor unions and their leadership.” That “education” includes negative information against the country’s largest teacher’s unions, the American Federation of Teachers (AFT) and the National Education Association (NEA). According to the group’s “Teachers Union Exposed” website, “The Center for Union Facts has run numerous campaigns to educate Americans on the dire state of our education system thanks to teachers unions blocking reform and bargaining away quality.” In 2015, the group published ads promoting the “Employee Rights Act.”
In 2008, Berman told the Chicago Tribune, “I think people who deny what’s happening with our education system are a little bit like Holocaust deniers. We really are slipping.” That same year CUF kicked off its “Ten Worst Union-Protected Teachers in America” contest. The group claims that after receiving over 600 nominations, it offered the ten worst teachers $10,000 to quit teaching. None of the “winners” accepted the money and CUF did not release any of their names. Berman’s group also runs AFT Facts.com, a site devoted to discrediting the AFT and its president, Randi Weingarten. In 2013, CUF took out a full-page ad in The New York Times blaming Weingarten for the U.S. falling behind Latvia, Estonia and Vietnam in science and math.
The group professes on its website that it provides “resources to workers curious about their rights when a union comes to organize their workplace or about how to get rid of a union that no longer serves their needs.” CUF has a webpage devoted to information for employees on how to “decertify” their union and tells workers, “Employees who no longer want a union to represent them — whether it’s because the union is undemocratic, corrupt, violent, or just plain inept — are entitled to seek an election to determine if a majority of their coworkers want to drop the union.” The website even includes sample decertification forms to help with the union-stripping process.
Berman’s anti-union front group engages in politics through its affiliate, the Enterprise Freedom Action Committee(formerly the Center for Union Facts Action Committee), which advocates for secret ballots in union elections. The group maintains a blog with CUF, called Labor Pains, which states, “We expose the truth about labor unions and the pain they impose upon free enterprise.” In 2008, the committee’s spokesperson claimed it had raised “more than $25 million,” the same year the group was attacking the Employee Free Choice Act, legislation that would have made it easier for workers to unionize. Berman told the New York Times that his campaign against the union-backed bill totaled around $30 million. The bill died in 2009.
While CUF has fought against the Employee Free Choice Act, the group spent nearly $2.5 million in 2012 alone supporting a bill that, according to The Washington Post, “would require a unionized workplace to recertify their union every three years.” CUF has another website devoted to this ironically-dubbed Employee Rights Act (EmployeeRightsAct.com) and has run numerous ads supporting the bill, including one that aired during the 2012 Super Bowl. That ad showed auto mechanics, including Berman posing as a union member, complaining over lost wages as a result of union dues. The ad claim that “only ten percent of people in unions today actually voted to join the union.” The Washington Post’s Fact-Checker gave that assertion three Pinocchios: “In the end, this is a nonsense fact….The number of people who cast an original vote for unionization says little about current support for the union. Indeed, workers now working in union shops may have actually sought out that job specifically because it was unionized.”
In 2012, the most recent year for which financial information is available, the group took in about $3.5 million in contributions and grants and spent about $3.1 million on its operations, including a little over $900,000 total for ads in The New York Times and on the Fox News Network, NBC Universal and National Cable Communications. CUF spent $835,000 on lobbying, research and advertising that went to Berman’s for-profit company, Berman and Company, an arrangement that is hardly unique for Berman. His non-profits commonly outsource jobs to his for-profit firm, which makes millions off of them as a result.
While most of CUF’s sponsors remain anonymous, Berman’s Employment Policies Institute Foundation has given $2.6 million to the group between 2006 and 2010. The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation has contributed $1.9 million to CUF since 2006, counting a $150,000 contribution in 2007 “to support a public-education project about unions’ ‘card-check’ organizing.” Other notable CUF donors include two donor advised funds, Donors Capital Fund and DonorsTrust, both of which have made contributions of $120,500 and $30,500 respectively.
Read more about CUF’s Founder Richard Berman and his other non-profit front groups by clicking on the links below: