Shadowy Lobbying Campaign Airs Political Ad During The Super Bowl
During the Super Bowl yesterday, the Center for Union Facts ran an ad in support for Senator Orrin Hatch’s “Employee Rights Act,” a bill that would make it much harder for workers to join unions, and easier for union-busting campaigns to decertify currently organized work places. The Center for Union Facts is one of two dozen front groups maintained by Washington political consultant Rick Berman, a “notorious PR operative,” who uses his groups to promote corporate lobbying campaigns.
The ad — part of a $10 million campaign by Berman to promote anti-union legislation — depicts several men working in a repair shop, talking about being sick of having to pay union dues. The narrator claims, “only ten percent of people in unions today actually voted to join the union.”
Berman’s ad, which ran in the D.C. media market, is at best misleading. Union members “already have the opportunity at least every three years to force a new election by filing a petition with the signatures of 30 percent of their co-workers,” notes Josh Eidelson, a reporter for In These Times magazine.
The Center for Union Facts does not reveal its donors, although it has been reported that the group coordinates with the big business-backed U.S. Chamber of Commerce.
Though few political advocacy ads are ever aired during the Super Bowl, this is the second time Berman has landed a spot. In 2010, Berman’s Employment Policies Institute, another front under control of Berman and his firm, aired an ad showing children pledging allegiance to the Chinese government. The ad was part of a larger big business-funded campaign to push Congress to adopt government-cutting austerity measures.
In the past, Berman has taken money from corporations — including from Wendy’s, Phillip Morris, Tyson Foods, Cargill, and Coco-Cola — to orchestrate “fake grass-roots websites and movements.”