We've been getting some calls about the latest spate of the so-called "Union Facts" anti-union campaign. This is actually not the first time these have run, but apparently people are paying more attention now than they were earlier in the summer. In a nutshell, this is out-of-state money trying to plough the ground for Ballot Measure 48, the so-called "taxpayers Bill of Rights," or TABOR. Measure 48 was placed on the ballot almost entirely due to this out-of-state money. Similar campaigns are underway in Michigan, Montana and Nevada. The Oregon AFL-CIO has gathered much of this information into one article that they've put out under President Tom Chamberlain's byline. That article has been posted on our web site (www.oregonafscme.com), but for your convenience, I am going to cut-and-paste it below as well.
In Unity,Don Loving, Public Affairs Director Oregon AFSCME Council 75 Portland, Ore.
By TOM CHAMBERLAIN Oregon AFL-CIO President
You may have seen the spiteful full-page newspaper ad or the prime-time commercials from a group calling itself the Center for Union Facts. If you smelled a rat, you¹re right. Here are the real facts behind the distortions.
FACT: The Center for Union Facts is a PR façade Richard Berman¹s Center for Union Facts is reportedly funded by the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, which fights against unions on worker-friendly laws like the prevailing wage for construction workers, minimum wage increases, and Fair Share Health Care legislation. An anonymous source revealed to the AFL-CIO that, in a meeting of the State Chambers of Commerce National Conference held on Sanibel Island in Florida on January 26, the State Chambers announced they were spending $8 million a year ($2 million a quarter) to launch this anti-union campaign. Berman¹s PR machine is notorious for creating front groups to spread distortions and attack consumer and progressive groups: Berman¹s Center for Consumer Freedom has attacked Mothers Against Drunk Driving, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, and the U.S. Centers for Disease Control on behalf of alcohol, fast food and tobacco lobbies.
His American Beverage Institute was set up to fight laws aimed at increasing safety regarding alcohol and drinking/driving laws.
His Employment Policies Institute fights minimum wage increases, especially in low-wage, labor-intensive sectors such as the restaurant industry.
His Fish Scam.com web site encourages pregnant women to disregard federal mercury guidelines and eat more albacore tuna. USA Today last month said that Berman¹s the go-to guy for ³nasty fights,² and cites sources describing him as ³Dr. Evil,² "sleazy," "sophomoric" and ³the Beltway's most outrageous advocate." Berman replied: "I was born in the Bronx. I actually enjoy all these attacks."
FACT: This attack is related to unions¹ success in fighting for working families The Progressive States Network found that despite Berman¹s denials, his group is in bed with Americans for Limited Government, Grover Norquist¹s group that¹s pushing Colorado¹s TABOR failed spending limit in several states. Unions in all four states that are being attacked by Berman this week - Oregon, Michigan, Nevada and Montana - are fighting the failed Colorado experiment. In Oregon, this is Measure 48. The American Prospect wrote an excellent expose in which quotes Berman as saying, "Our offensive strategy is to shoot the messenger. We've got to attack [advocates'] credibility as spokespersons.²
FACT: The ³UnionFacts² are nothing more than distortions and half-truths The centerpiece of Berman¹s anti-worker campaign is a website that purports to show the ³facts² on unions, but which offers distortions instead. In posting union staff salaries (which already are publicly available from the U.S. Department of Labor), the website does not distinguish between salaries and travel expenses, inflating salaries so that union field reps who are reimbursed for travel and lodging look like high-paid officials While highlighting the fact that there have been "$400 million in labor racketeering fines and civil restitution in the last five years," Berman's outfit ignored that almost all of the penalties in question were being paid by businesses, not unions, violating labor law Their ads feature actors speaking as working people, but in fact the group attacks the groups who work for fair wages, safe working conditions, and a better life for hard working Americans. Further, the full-page ad in the Oregonian, with a model posing as a worker sneering at the camera, is just plain mean. People who work for a living deserve better than to be mocked by corporate lobbyists like Berman, who rakes in $10 million a year.
More information on Richard Berman is online at