Big business strikes back with creation of anti-union coalition

Confronted by labor-driven victories on such issues as Maryland's newly enacted law targeting Wal-Mart's healthcare spending and the constant struggle by union lobbyists to increase state and national minimum wages, big business is fighting back.

Confronted by labor-driven victories on such issues as Maryland's newly enacted law targeting Wal-Mart's healthcare spending and the constant struggle by union lobbyists to increase state and national minimum wages, big business is fighting back.

OBJECTIVE: Confronted by labor-driven victories on such issues as Maryland's newly enacted law targeting Wal-Mart's healthcare spending and the constant struggle by union lobbyists to increase state and national minimum wages, big business is fighting back.

A coalition of businesses and a foundation - none of whom have been disclosed by name - contributed to help found the Center for Union Facts (CUF), which is run by Richard Berman, a restaurant industry lobbyist who has helped that industry fight against government regulations. The CUF aims to educate the public and union members about the downside of unions by bringing its strongly anti-union message into the national spotlight.

IDEA: The CUF kicked off this month with a nationwide newspaper advertising campaign. Full-page ads in The New York Times, Los Angeles Times, and other large papers bore an anti-union message and directed traffic to its Web site, www.unionfacts.com.

TOOLS: The Web site will serve as CUF's biggest resource, noted communications director Sarah Longwell. After the main advertising push winds down, the group will focus on releasing studies and polls to maintain its media visibility. The site features an extensive collection of negative profiles of unions, as well as sections like "Crime and Corruption," "Unfair Labor Practices," and "Political Money." There is also an "Employee Resources" section telling current or prospective union members how to fight against the organizations or become whistleblowers about corrupt practices.

MEASUREMENT: Longwell said the launch has been "a tremendous success," citing stories in the nation's largest papers, as well as television coverage. The group also is tracking Web hits and expects its campaign to continue for at least two years.

Organization: Center for Union Facts (CUF)
Campaign: Launch of CUF and Web site
PR Team: In-house
Other marketing: National advertising
Launching: February 2006
Budget: At least $5 million per year (total marketing)

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