June 27, 2006 – Officials at the U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) are scrambling to explain their relationship and contacts with Richard Berman, a former alcohol and tobacco industry lobbyist and current front man for the anti-union website, UnionFacts.com.
Information uncovered by a Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit filed by Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) reveal a lengthy chain of correspondence between Berman and DOL officials, including aides to Labor Secretary Elaine Chao.
Documents obtained by CREW detail what they describe as a “close and supportive” relationship between the two entities, including correspondence showing a meeting was set up between Berman and DOL staff. The Washington, D.C. -based watchdog group filed the FOIA lawsuit after reports surfaced about DOL officials promoting Berman’s website in emails to DOL employees.
Berman’s organization, the Center for Union Facts, is responsible for newspaper and TV ads using actors posing as union members to blame union leaders for factory closings, bankruptcies and jobs being sent overseas by companies in search of cheap labor.