Bradley Foundation Bankrolls Attacks on Unions

Documents examined by the Center for Media and Democracy (CMD) expose a national effort by the Milwaukee-based Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation to defund and dismantle unions, the most significant force for higher wages and better working conditions in America.

Publicly, the Bradley Foundation spins this agenda as “employee rights.” Behind the scenes, newly disclosed Bradley documents detail an aggressive political agenda.

The Bradley Foundation is pouring money into the anti-union National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation because “Big Labor and trial attorneys are the two principal funding pillars of the left” (NRWLDF, Grant Proposal Record, 11/12/2013). It wants the Independence Institute in Colorado to “defund teacher’s unions and achieve real education reform” at the local level (Barder Fund, 8/18/15). It is funding the Freedom Foundation in Washington State to “defund Big Labor” because “Washington State’s liberal labor laws have long allowed it to be a net exporter of union dollars to other parts of the country” (Barder Fund, 6/2/15, Freedom Foundation, Grant Proposal Record, 8/19/2014).

Why does Bradley want to annihilate unions? Because if you dismantle unions, you destroy a key funder of the Democratic Party and its “army on the ground,” as Newt Gingrich once put it.

Bradley-funded institutions talk about this agenda in Bradley-funded media in purely partisan terms.

“There’s no doubt that with the decline in union membership here in Wisconsin, the political clout of the union bosses and their ability to automatically turn out members for Democrats has declined dramatically,” Brett Healy, president of the Bradley-funded MacIver Institute, told the Heritage Foundation’s Daily Signal.

“Did the labor reforms enacted in Wisconsin and neighboring Michigan help Donald Trump win those states?” asked Matt Patterson, executive director of the Center for Worker Freedom at Grover Norquist’s Americans for Tax Reform. “No question in my mind. Hard to fight when your bazooka’s been replaced by a squirt gun.”


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