Profile: Employee Freedom Action Committee

Employee Freedom Action Committee
Employee Freedom Action Committee

The Employee Freedom Action Committee is a 501(c)(4) advocacy organization run by former lobbyist Richard Berman, who also runs several other industry-funded nonprofits. Employee Freedom advocates for secret ballots in union elections and uses that issue to criticize Democratic candidates for Senate. (A separate group, the Coalition for a Democratic Workplace, is running a similar campaign.)

So far, the organization has raised more than $25 million, according to a spokesperson. One of its board members is Allison Shay, who until recently lobbied for the National Restaurant Association. The group's original name was the Center for Union Facts Action Committee and it is affiliated with the Berman-run Center for Union Facts, a 501(c)(3) that argues that union officials are corrupt and bad for workers.

Berman's firm also runs the American Beverage Institute, which argues that drunk driving is over-hyped; the Center for Consumer Freedom, which argues that the obesity "epidemic" and mad cow disease, among other things, are over-hyped; and the Employment Policies Institute, which advocates against minimum wage increases. The Center for Consumer Freedom also runs the Web site Activistcash.com.

Berman, former labor law director for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, also created a group in the 1990s, partially funded by Philip Morris, to defend the restaurant industry against anti-smoking activists.

In states where the Employee Freedom Action Committee runs ads, the group has local affiliates (i.e. Mississippians for Employee Freedom, Granite Staters for Employee Freedom, etc.) with their own steering committees.

Funders: Unknown for the Employee Freedom Action Committee. In 2007, the Center for Union Facts received $150,000 from the Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation "to support a public-education project about unions' 'card-check' organizing." In 2006, the Center received $200,000 from the Bradley Foundation and $150,000 from the Gleason Foundation of Rochester, NY.

Leadership: Richard Berman, J. Justin Wilson, Tim Miller, Allison Shay, James Hands, Keith Sirois, Alan P. Dye. Read more about these leaders in The Secret Money Project's Who's Who Directory of Key Leaders of Independent Groups.

Will Evans is a reporter for the Center for Investigative Reporting, NPR's partner for the Secret Money Project.

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