Corporate Social Responsibility (Redefined)

A hitherto unknown business group the Center for Union Facts ran a startling, rather nasty, anti-union ad in yesterday’s New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal. The ad basically blames unions for job losses overseas. Now, as an economic matter, it stands to reason that anything which raises wages makes it harder to compete with ultra-low-wage foreign producers, but life is much more complex, since human capital is more than just simple hours of labor. And unions are shrinking anyway.

But I’ll leave all that to the economists. What interests me is who paid for it. According to the New York Times, all that the group’s spokesman would say is: “various companies and a foundation had contributed to his nonprofit group, but he refused to identify them.” And their web site is even more opaque about who is behind it.

Do you suppose that the corporations paying for this stuff are booking the contributions under their ‘corporate social responsibility’ expenditures?

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3 Responses to Corporate Social Responsibility (Redefined)

  1. Patrick (G) says:

    You’ve probably already done this., but the domain is registered to Berman and Company.

    If you unpack the language a bit, it essentially says that they’re professional Astroturfers.
    to wit see the entry for their ‘subgroup’ CCF.
    The meat is actually in the CCF entry.

    If the Center for Union Facts is a “charity”, it may be possible to find more info via their form 990 at some point but GuideStar doesn’t have any info on them yet.

    Personally, if I were a Union, I would look into bringing a lawsuit against CfUF and the Berman group for slander or somesuch.

  2. gr says:

    Nathan Newman Documents one lie:

    Apparently UnionFacts [sic] claims about 400 million in labor racketeering over the past 5 years. But that is 400 million in labor *related* racketeering, including cases of unions being ripped off by businesses. Ridiculous.

  3. r. f. smith says:

    The article which you cite triggers some questions to which I will offer some thoughts. Are Unions worth saving? Do union contracts lead to self-destruction?

    I suggest that unions are worth saving. Historically unions were instrumental in bringing about those changes which most would agree make perfect sense:
    1. Child Labor laws which coincidentally were opposed by the National Association of Manufacturers even after virtual national enactment.
    2. Occupational safety laws

    History demonstrates that periods of unbridled capitalism tend to be disastrous for the country. e.g. the period of the robber barons, the period leading up to 1929, and the last 25-30 years which has seen the concentration of wealth among the top 1% nearly double, reaching the highest levels in the 20 th century.

    Secondly, Unions when strong provide a counter-veiling power to the abuses of big business.
    1. Would CEO pay be so obscenely disproportionate to that of the employees in a strong union environment? Compare the unbridled avarice of today with the compensation levels of the 1950s.

    2. Presumably, if indeed power tends to corrupt, then strong unions would save management from the inevitable slide into scandal. eg. Enron, etc.

    3.Union shops befit a democratic state.

    How can union contracts be negotiated in such a way so as to avoid what seems to be harmful inflationary cost of living increases?

    1. Walter Reuther once proposed that a UAW contract include a raise while there be no corresponding increase in auto prices. The increased cost of the contract would have been paid for out of efficiency, thus benefitting not only the workers, but also the consuming public. (Unfortunately, Dave Beck and Jimmy Hoffa sabotaged Reuther’s proposal).

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