The Real Union News

February 1, 2009

My father is a union buster.

Filed under: anti-union, Rick Berman — theunionnews @ 11:42 am

“My father.You might be surprised to know he is famous, for terrible reasons. My father is a despicable man. My father is a sort of human molester.”…”He is a union buster.”– David Berman on his father, Richard “Rick” Berman

Entirely from the pages of:

Front Group King Rick Berman Gets Blasted by his Son David Berman
Submitted by Anne Landman on Fri, 01/30/2009 – 11:00.

Rick BermanRick BermanWashington, D.C. lobbying scourge Richard B. “Rick” Berman is facing steadily increasing pushback these days, and some of it is coming from a surprising source — his own son, musician David Berman.

Berman has long been the front man through which corporations have aggressively attacked their opponents without leaving fingerprints. Known to his own friends and enemies alike as “Dr. Evil,” Berman has perfected the art of setting up non-profit “charitable” groups to advance corporate interests. The groups have deceptively helpful-sounding names, like “Guest Choice Network,” the “Employment Policies Institute” or the “Center for Consumer Freedom,” but really serve as well-funded attack dogs for the tobacco, alcohol, chain restaurant, tanning and other industries. The groups’ non-profit status makes their funding hard to trace, which has permitted Berman to operate in the shadows for decades while pocketing millions from unpopular industries for his work thwarting public interest legislation.

Pushback against underhanded lobbying tactics

Berman depends on secrecy to cloak his operations, but recently the Congressional watchdog group Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) unveiled a hard-hitting new Web site,, which unmasks Berman’s front groups, tactics, employees and projects. [Note: Berman succeeded in knocking this website offline on January 29.] CREW’s Web site outs Berman’s “charitable” groups as the lobbying tools they are, and describes how he uses them to run attack ads and implement other tactics to fight Mothers Against Drunk Driving, People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals and other public interest groups’ efforts to raise awareness of obesity, secondhand smoke, drunk driving, mad cow disease, and other causes. CREW even posted a photo of the $3.3 million house Berman purchased with money he has earned from his dirty lobbying tactics.

Another Blow Hits Closer to Home

CREW’s new site was a resounding strike at Berman, but it might have inadvertently catalyzed yet another blow that hits even closer to home.

Rick Berman's son, singer-songwriter David BermanRick Berman’s son, singer-songwriter David BermanRick Berman’s son, David Berman, is a 42-year-old singer-songwriter who, since 1989, has been the front singer for a popular New York City indie rock band called the “Silver Jews.” Over the years, the Jews have developed a loyal following, but on January 22, 2009 David Berman stunned his fans by posting a note to an online message board announcing that after all these years he was leaving the Silver Jews. The reason? His father, Rick Berman.

In scathing language, David disclosed to his fans who his father is, and how leaving the band related to his father’s work. David wrote,

Now that the Joos are over I can tell you my gravest secret. Worse than suicide, worse than crack addiction:

My father.

You might be surprised to know he is famous, for terrible reasons. My father is a despicable man. My father is a sort of human molestor.

An exploiter. A scoundrel. A world historical mother******* son of a bitch. (sorry grandma).

You can read about him here:

… A couple of years ago I demanded he stop his work. Close down his company or I would sever our relationship.

He refused. He has just gotten worse. More evil. More powerful. We’ve been “estranged” for over three years.

Even as a child I disliked him. We were opposites. I wanted to read. He wanted to play games.

He is a union buster.

When I got out of college I joined the Teamsters (the guards were union organized at the Whitney).

I went off to hide in art and academia.

The Silver Jews perform “I’m Getting Back Into Getting Back Into You.”

I fled through this art portal for twenty years. In the meantime my Dad started a very very bad company called Berman and Company.

He props up fast food/soda/factory farming/childhood obesity and diabetes/drunk driving/secondhand smoke.

He attacks animal lovers, ecologists, civil action attorneys, scientists, dieticians, doctors, teachers.

His clients include everyone from the makers of Agent Orange to the Tanning Salon Owners of America.

He helped ensure the minimum wage did not move a penny from 1997-2007!

The worst part for me as a writer is what he does with the English language.

Though vicious he is a doltish thinker, and his spurious editorials rely on doublethink and always with the Lashon Hara.

As I studied Judaism over the years, the shame and the shanda, grew almost too much. My heart was constantly on fire for justice. I could find no relief.

This winter I decided that the SJs [Silver Jews] were too small of a force to ever come close to undoing a millionth of all the harm he has caused. To you and everyone you know.

Literally, if you eat food or have a job, he is reaching you.

I’ve always hid this terrible shame from you, the fan. The SJs have always stood autonomous and clear.

Hopefully it won’t contaminate your feelings about the work … In a way I am the son of a demon come to make good the damage.

Previously I thought, through songs and poems and drawings I could find and build a refuge away from his world.

But there is the matter of Justice.

And I’ll tell you it’s not just a metaphor. The desire for it actually burns.

It hurts.

There needs to be something more. I’ll see what that might be.



David’s powerful note provides insight into the tortured feelings David has endured as the son of the Lobbyist from Hell. We well agree that Rick Berman is guilty of shamefully obstructing public health and working to crush those who care about public welfare, clean air, the environment, animal rights and other causes. For any normal father, this public note would be excruciatingly painful. For all we know, it might be for Rick Berman, too. But will the pain of this note be enough to change him?

We hope David’s public expression of his feelings about his father’s work will make Rick Berman think about what he is doing to society, if not his family. If it isn’t, well then David, we are on your side and are willing to help you in any way we can.


US Chamber Of Commerce against Made In USA provisions

Filed under: Chamber of Commerce, free trade, Made in USA, The Employee Free Choice Act — theunionnews @ 12:30 am

The concept it (US Chamber of Commerce) fails to grasp is that there already is a trade war and the United States is being severely beaten.-Craig Harrington from video

The US Chamber of Commerce is a private group and is not a Federal agency, they lobby for the needs of the largest US corporations.

Besides being completely anti-union and staunchly against The Employee Free Choice Act, the US Chamber Of Commerce is one of the biggest lobbyist of unadulterated free trade. It is very unfortunate because the idea behind the Chamber of Commerce would be a good one if they just weren’t trying to rape the American public and workforce. This is in no way a slight to the more favorable regional Chamber’s who’s members are local businesses, but on the top, the US COC, the needs of the Wal-Mart’s, the McDonald’s, the Home Depot’s and their like minded ilk are priority number one.

Video is from an article at Economy in crisis entitled “Chamber of Commerce Leading Congress Astray

Video Link for my text readers

The economics policy institutes adds in “Big business lobbies for importers

Multinational companies such as General Electric and Caterpillar, and their allies in the Chamber of Commerce, are attacking “Buy American” provisions included in the economic recovery bill passed by the House on January 28th. They claim that these provisions will provoke a “trade war” with foreign governments, but foreign governments have long histories of supporting their own domestic companies. These companies are self-interested, simply wanting unlimited access to imports, many of which are illegally subsidized and unfairly traded. U.S. and foreign multinational companies (MNCs) were responsible for nearly two-thirds of all U.S. imports in 2006, as shown in the chart below. U.S. firms led the way with $678 billion in imports, 36.4% of all U.S. goods imports. Foreign MNCs pulled in an additional $482.4 billion in goods, 25.6% of the U.S. import bill.

MNC Share of US imports

Companies like Caterpillar, which will benefit from billions of dollars of infrastructure spending in the stimulus package, want unfettered access to cheap steel from countries like China, which poured more than $15 billion into energy subsidies into that sector in 2007 alone. Chinese steel imports more than doubled between January and November, while U.S. steel production fell nearly 40%. The Chamber of Commerce, which also opposes further “Buy American” provisions, represents the interests of U.S. companies like Caterpillar and IBM as well as foreign multinationals like Toyota and Siemens, all represented on its board of directors. Congress has finally realized that what’s good for big business is not always good for America, and that new rules are needed to rein in runaway corporations. That’s real progress.

Here’s a tidbit from “U.S. Corporations Against Buying American

Free trade” has only served to allow the nation’s trade deficit to explode to uncontrollable levels, killed jobs, armed economic rivals with the means to buy up American assets and businesses and allowed our shores to be invaded with toxic products from Third World nations.

gspencer writes in a comment to “Chamber of Commerce Leading Congress Astray

United States Chamber of Commerce:
I really believe that we must preserve the economic miracle that has given our citizens one of the highest living standards in the world. This economic miracle has not been due to the efforts of the members of the US Chamber of Commerce, who include Importers, middlemen, Wall Street criminals, Stock Market Gamblers, Real Estate Speculators, Economists, Insurance Salesmen, Junk Bond Salesmen, etc., and very few firms that contribute to correcting our balance of trade. Todays USA standard of living was created by the Agricultural and Industrial Base that produced the food, goods, services and other items that we consumed, plus an excess of these goods & services that were produced and then sold to other foreign countries in order to accumulate the US gold reserves through a positive balance of trade surplus payments. Our gold reserves are the basis of the value or buying power of our currency. This was (is) true of all of the currencies in the world.

Only a positive balance of trade will restore the value of the dollar, and we must accomplish this by any means possible, or accept third world poverty on a large scale basis. Riots and insurrection are predictable, ala the French Revolution, when the people find their situations economically hopeless.

Big thanks to Mainstream Populist Democrats for the head’s up on the video and the site:

January 31, 2009

Video: New ad campaign the truth about the Employee Free Choice Act

Filed under: EFCA, The Employee Free Choice Act — theunionnews @ 6:15 pm

David Macaray: Union busting alive and well: Inside The Burke Group

Filed under: anti-union, CounterPunch, David Macaray, The Burke Group — theunionnews @ 6:05 pm

I love David Macaray’s articles, this one is 1/6/09

Inside the Burke Group
Union-Busting is Alive and Well


Established in 1982, with headquarters in tony Malibu, California, The Burke Group (after president and CEO David Burke) advertises itself as the world’s largest management consulting firm specializing in “union avoidance and preventative industrial labor relations.” Which is more or less a euphemism for “union busting.”

The Burke Group (TBG, for short) earns its keep by defeating union organizing efforts. Torpedoing membership drives is their self-declared “specialty.” When hired by a company to dissuade employees from joining a labor union, TBG representatives swing into action, utilizing every manner of high-powered, negative propaganda to make sure the referendum fails.

TBG’s anti-union presentations (and, typically, there are several of them, spread over weeks) are conducted on company turf, where employee attendance is mandatory. Those who refuse to attend the presentations can be terminated.

Basically, what TBG does at these captive audience meetings is bombard the well-intentioned but impressionable employees with smears, innuendo, flattery, and scare tactics, using a standard, two-pronged assault: one-part economic and one-part psychological.

The economic part consists of pretending that, contrary to what they’ve heard, workers don’t actually “gain” materially by joining a union. Any wage or benefit increase will, in fact, be eaten up by ever-increasing monthly dues that are used to pay the inflated salaries of greedy union bosses, and by debilitating strikes, where employees are thrown out of work for months at a time, with no say in the matter. That’s their pitch.

Of course, these assertions are not only counter-factual and purposely misleading, they’re downright insulting to anyone who’s been paying attention. Union wages alone (not even counting benefits) are, on average, 15% higher than non-union wages. And, because dues run about $50-$60 per month, and amount to but a tiny fraction of that differential, the suggestion that higher wages will be off-set by monthly dues is absurd.

As for strikes, their impact is also wildly exaggerated. In truth, given the economic climate and status of organized labor, how many actual strikes are there anymore? The reason strikes make the evening news and front page of the newspaper is because they occur so infrequently; and the ones that last for “months” are rarer still.

Moreover, a union cannot raise the monthly dues without a majority of the membership voting to raise them. And federal labor law stipulates that voting on dues increases (as well as officers salaries) must be conducted by secret ballot. It couldn’t be any clearer. Yet, these professional union-busters try to make it sound like joining a union means abandoning democracy and common sense, and placing oneself at the mercy of money-hungry despots.

The same goes for strikes. Because a strike is such a momentous undertaking, a union negotiating team cannot call one unless the membership has already given them authorization to do so. That stipulation is spelled out in the by-laws. Again, it couldn’t be any clearer.

In fact, some unions, such as the Screen Actors Guild (SAG), require even more than a simple majority; they require a 75% mandate for strike authorization. In short, no matter what these union-busters claim, a union doesn’t hit the bricks unless the members themselves choose to do so. Yet, companies like TBG continue to sell the idea that union members have no say in what happens to them.

The psychological part of the presentation is equally misleading. TBG reps try to convince employees that once they join a union they no longer have unrestricted or unimpeded access to management. They are told that, by virtue of signing up, they automatically define themselves as management’s “enemy,” and, accordingly, can expect the company to treat them with hostility and contempt.

The propaganda is unremitting. Workers are warned that, if they ignore the sound advice being offered them and choose, instead, to join a union, they will go from being free, self-sufficient and valued employees to mere foot soldiers in organized labor’s vast army of minions. They paint an unbelievably demoralizing picture.

It’s also not uncommon for professional union-busters to use visual aids. Typically, they’ll show footage of downtrodden workers manning picket lines, union goons battling the police, and scowling, overweight union bosses doing the perp walk as they’re led away by federal agents for violating racketeering statutes or stealing money from the union’s treasury. Anything to make organized labor look bad.

As heavy-handed and coarse as these methods are, TBG has been surprisingly successful using them. Among its “victorious” customers are General Electric, Honeywell, Coca-Cola, the Eaton Corporation, Virgin Air, T-Mobile, K-Mart, and the Chinese Daily News. With TBG’s help, all of these businesses were successful in keeping their employees from joining unions.

Because so many of the workers being targeted by organized labor these days are Latinos, many of whom are recent immigrants working at jobs at the bottom of the economic ladder, TBG has convinced employers that they need qualified Spanish-speakers to do their dirty work.. And TBG speaks fluent Spanish. (Their consultants also speak Tagalog, French, Portuguese, Vietnamese, and several dialects of Chinese.)

Indeed, TBG takes great pride in customizing its service. When the Chinese Daily News (CDN) came to TBG for assistance in crushing its employees’ organizing drive, the firm chose as its representative one Larry Wong, an ethnic Chinese. They rarely miss a trick. Predictably, TBG’s services don’t come cheaply. According to reports, CDN alone has paid TBG more than $800,000 in consulting fees.

So next time people are tempted to criticize organized labor for not recruiting more new members, they should take a moment to consider the opposition. When it comes to keeping the unions out, American businesses are willing to pay cash. TBG is just one of many companies willing to accept it.

David Macaray, a Los Angeles playwright (“Borneo Bob,” “Larva Boy”) and writer, was a former labor union rep. He can be reached at

From the pages of:

Video: Wal-Mart save money, live better

Filed under: wal-mart — theunionnews @ 5:50 pm

Video Link

Q: Averaging just $17,000 a year, $4,000 below the poverty line, how on earth is a Wal-Mart employee able to have a truck and a mortgage?

Video: Letterman releases last appearance of Bill Hicks

Filed under: Bill Hicks, David Letterman, video — theunionnews @ 12:39 pm

I didn’t even know this existed, last night David Letterman has Mary Hicks, Bill’s mom, on his show and released a 1993 appearance, Bill’s last, which originally did not air.

Video Link for my text subscribers

January 30, 2009

“No Justice, No Cookies” Jan. 31 march to support Stella D’Oro workers

Filed under: BCTGM, New York, Rally, Stella D'Oro, strike — theunionnews @ 12:55 pm

From Talking Union by dsalaborblogmoderator

stella-doro-picketlineOn Saturday, January 31, a rally and march will be held to support striking Stella D’Oro workers in New York City. The company is attempting to destroy their union The 135 workers of Stella D’Oro, the biscuit producers, most of whom are Latina women and immigrants from Asia and Africa are confronting a cold winter on the streets. They have been on strike since August 13, 2008. The company, Brynwood Partners, has refused to negotiate and is demanding that the workers return to work without a contract in an attempt to destroy their union.


Saturday JAN. 31 * 11AM * 237 St & Bway

#1 train to 238th St. (at Broadway); map

In front of Stella D’Oro plant on 237th Street & Broadway

“No Justice, No Cookies!”


The workers have gone on strike because the company wants to: Slash wages by as much as 25% Make health insurance unaffordable by imposing crushing premiums Eliminate holidays, vacations, sick pay & current pension Eliminate extra pay for working Saturdays

The strikers are represented by the Bakery, Confectionery, Tobacco Workers and Grain Millers International Union (BCTGM) Local 50. They are on the picket line everyday!


Committee in Support of the Stella D’Oro Strikers



Vice President Biden quote of the day

Filed under: Biden, Labor, union — theunionnews @ 12:32 pm

From SEIU Blog 1/30/09:

“I do believe–and I make no apologies for it–that over the last 100 years the middle class was built on the back of organized labor. Without their weight, heft and their insistence starting in the early 1900s we wouldn’t have the middle class we have now, in my view. So I think labor getting a fair share of the pie is part of it.”

President Obama- "We cannot have strong middle class without strong labor union"

Filed under: American worker, Barack Obama, Daily Kos, union — theunionnews @ 12:19 pm

This is from DailyKOS, go there and give a recommend or a comment, we need to let President Obama know that the workers are behind him if he is behind us. Not only that tell the people out there in internet land that labor is the number one priority. Without a fair and honest days pay, we are all screwed.

Obama- “Cannot have strong middle class without strong labor union”
by NathanNewman

That was Obama statement repealing a number of Bush-era anti-union executive orders and creating a White House Task Force on Middle Class Working Families, chaired by VP Joe Biden and no doubt staffed by former-Economic Policy Institute leader Jared Bernstein, who is working for Biden on economic issues

I’ll skip the substance of the exec order actions and emphasize that Obama statement as far more significant. We have not had a President that so forthrightly identified the health of the nation with the health of the labor movement. I’m sure Clinton and Carter never did and I’d be curious if anyone has quotes from LBJ or JFK said so strongly.

Remembering that much of the upsurge in labor organizing in the 1930s came BEFORE the Wagner Act was allowed to go into effect by the Supreme Court in 1937, in many ways the most significant tools of the labor movement that decade was FDR’s statement early on that, President Roosevelt declared publicly, “If I were a worker I would join a union.” Union leaders used that statement to rally workers across the country. Whether Obama’s statement will have the same galvanizing effect is unclear, but it may help significantly — and may help undercut the anti-union stance of Congressional opponents of the Employee Free Choice Act and other labor bills pending.

Bumper sticker ready

Bank Of America takes $25 Billion of our money and organizes conference call against unions

Filed under: Bailout, Bank Of America, Home Depot, Rick Berman — theunionnews @ 11:03 am


MSNBC Reports on Bank of America’s Anti-Worker Conference Call
By Brad Levinson

Reaction to Sam Stein’s recent Huffington Post article on Bank of America’s anti-Employee Free Choice conference call has been sweeping.

Wednesday night, on MSNBC show 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., host David Shuster reported on the call during his “Hypocrisy Watch” segment. Airing some of the tape from the call, Shuster makes the following comment:

“Bernie Marcus is entitled to his opinion on unions. Likewise, every American citizen is welcome to get involved in elections – elections matter. However, Bank of America and other financial institutions helped create the financial mess that our country faces, to begin with. For Bank of America to take taxpayer bailout money in order to ‘improve the company’s health’ and then use that money to organize a conference call and get so involved in fighting in fighting workers who are trying to improve their own financial health…that’s hypocrisy and that’s wrong.”

Watch the clip here:

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