Industry Groups Attack Non-Union Labor Organizations
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Restaurant Opportunities Centers United (ROC), a restaurant workers organization with ten affiliates in major cities around the country, faced similar attacks from restaurant owners targeted with lawsuits for wage theft and discrimination in New York City. The Fireman Hospitality Group, owners of eight high-end New York restaurants, responded with a countersuit alleging, among other things, that ROC “act[ed] as a front for a local union.”
The National Labor Relations Board eventually ruled in ROC’s favor. But Teófilo Reyes, the organization’s program coordinator, says he is not surprised similar attacks are being leveled at organizations like his.
“Workers centers are doing effective work, so corporate interests are looking to stop them,” Reyes says. “They want to maintain the status quo of low wages and expanding inequality.”
While the CUF’s ad attacked worker centers generally, it did not call specifically for worker centers to disclose their finances as unions do—likely because CUF itself is known for failing to disclose who its donors are, and pays the bulk of its budget to Richard Berman, the group’s executive director, and his research and communications firm, Berman and Company. Berman runs 23 different groups defending corporate interests, according to an anti-Berman site run by the liberal nonprofit Citizens for Responsibility and Ethics in Washington—including one organization devoted entirely to attacking ROC.
The attacks on alt-labor groups are unlikely to go away anytime soon. But when asked whether he is worried, ROC’s Reyes seemed nonchalant.
“This is what [groups like CUF are] set up to do: protect corporate interests around the country,” Reyes says. “But our work speaks for itself.”