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The Center for Union Facts is an interest group critical of union officials’ activities. It is one of several advocacy and public relations groups created by Richard Berman. Berman’s Washington, D.C.-based public affairs firm, Berman and Company, specializes in research, communications and advertising.
CUF was launched in February 2006 via full-page ads in major U.S. newspapers, including The New York Times, The Washington Post and The Wall Street Journal. In May 2006 the organization launched its first television advertisement campaign. The 30-second spot, running on Fox News Channel and local markets, featured "actors posing as workers" saying what they 'love' about unions," like paying dues, union leaders' "fat-cat lifestyles," and discrimination against minorities. The ad campaign cost US$3 million, raised "from companies, foundations and individuals that Mr. Berman won't identify."
Another TV ad (shown on CNN among other stations) shows paid professional actors posing as large, burly "union leaders" muscling their way into a worker's home and "intimidating" him into joining the union. Labor and economics professor Harley Shaiken said the effort "to create an antiunion 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."
In August 2006 the CUF ran a series of advertisements in Montana, Oregon, Michigan and Nevada attacking public employee unions. It appears that this may have been connected with ballot initiatives in those states proposing public spending caps.
The Center for Union Facts has been criticized for failing to include relevant information in its anti-union campaign. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, union workers earn 27% more than non union workers, and are more likely to receive health care and pension benefits. As well, unions take a strong stance on workers' safety. These omissions cause critics to question the whether the Center's focus is improving conditions for workers or increasing corporate profits.
In February 2012, the group, which supports a bill in Congress that would require unions to be recertified every three years, ran a Super Bowl ad which said that "Only ten percent of people in unions today actually voted to join the union." The Fact Checker column in the Washington Post awarded the claim three Pinocchios, saying "In the end, this is a nonsense fact." An economist with the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities said "It is a bit like saying Virginia isn’t a state because none of its current residents voted for statehood."
In 2006, Berman said that he had raised about $2.5 million "from companies, trade organizations and individuals", whom he declined to identify.
Sarah Longwell, a CUF spokeswoman, said that "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." Longwell is also associated with the PETA Kills Animals campaign, is listed as director of communications for the Center for Consumer Freedom, Managing Director of the American Beverage Institute, and a spokeswoman for the Indoor Tanning Association, all run by Berman & Co.