CREW Forces Deptartment of Labor to Release Anti-Union Documents
Washington, DC – Today, Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) released 108 pages of documents it received from the Department of Labor (DOL) in response to a CREW Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) lawsuit over records DOL has regarding contacts between DOL and conservative lobbyist and executive director of the anti-union group Center for Union Facts, Richard Berman.
On March 14, 2006, CREW requested from DOL all records related to or mentioning Richard Berman and the Center for Union Facts, the Employment Policies Institute Foundation, and the Center for Consumer Freedom. CREW sent the FOIA request after reading a March 13, 2006 column by Al Kamen in The Washington Post reporting that Lynn Gibson, an aide in DOL’s public liaison office, sent an email to DOL employees identifying unionfacts.com as a website “dedicated to providing information on labor unions and their expenditures.” Because DOL refused to comply with CREW FOIA’s request, on April 25, 2006, CREW sued DOL for the records, compelling DOL to provide the records.
The email correspondence between DOL and unionfacts.org staff show a close and supportive relationship between the two entities. For example, the documents include correspondence showing that DOL Secretary Elaine Chao agreed to be profiled for one of Richard Berman’s many conservative organizations, the First Jobs Institute.
The documents include an email indicating that Lynn Gibson set up a meeting between Berman and DOL staff. In another, Ms. Gibson tells a CUF staff person that she will send out emails related to CUF’s website to her “network.” Additionally, the e-mails obtained by CREW and sent out by DOL staff, include an op-ed drafted by Berman, anti-union newspaper accounts as well as anti-union blogs and news releases.
Claiming privilege, DOL has withheld e-mail correspondence including correspondence from Secretary Chao, that directly refer to Berman and his organizations. CREW will litigate this issue and press for the release of all documents responsive to its request.
“These documents make it clear that under the leadership of Secretary Chao, the Department of Labor has become anti-labor,” said Melanie Sloan, executive director of CREW. “It is disgraceful that the very department designed to focus on improving the lives of American laborers is disseminating anti-union propaganda and developing relationships with anti-union organizations. American workers deserve better.”
Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington (CREW) is a non-profit legal watchdog group dedicated to holding public officials accountable for their actions. For more information, please visit www.citizensforethics.org or contact Derrick Crowe at 202.408.5565 or firstname.lastname@example.org.