Non-profit

Association for Union Democracy

Website:

uniondemocracy.org/

Location:

BROOKLYN, NY

Tax ID:

23-7037975

Tax-Exempt Status:

501(c)(3)

Budget (2017):

Revenue: $109,635
Expenses: $100,807
Assets: $115,642

Type:

Non-profit

Formation:

1969

Association for Union Democracy (AUD) is a pro-union advocacy group focused on improving the internal governance of American labor unions. [1] AUD was founded in 1969 by longtime socialist Herman Benson, with the intention of creating democracy within unions while exposing corruption. AUD claims that discrimination, racketeering, and corruption are all results of a lack of democracy within a union, and that workers are better represented when internal democracy is established. [2]

AUD provides resources to workers; namely, organizing, education, and legal assistance, in an effort to support free speech, fair elections, and increased membership participation. [3] AUD cites key criteria for achieving a democratic union, including in this list are fair, frequent, and contested elections; member ratifications of contracts; strike votes; and full participation of workers in the grievance process. [4]

AUD co-authored The Manual for Survival for Women in Nontraditional Employment in 1999. The manual discusses issues potentially faced by women in a male-dominated union environment, including harassment and discrimination. The advice given in the manual is geared towards increasing the overall participation of women in labor unions. [5]

Activity

Association for Union Democracy is a pro-union non-profit organization focused on the governance of trade unions. Herman Benson, a longtime socialist, founded AUD to fight for democracy within unions while exposing corruption. [6]

AUD claims that within many unions, there is a lack of democracy, which potentially results in discrimination, racketeering, corruption, and self-serving officials. The Association claims that by establishing internal democracy, unions are better equipped to represent their workers. [7]

AUD provides organizing, education, and legal assistance to workers seeking to gain stronger membership controls within their unions. The Association aims to enhance the democratic process within unions, encouraging free speech, fair elections, and better membership participation. [8]

While AUD does not have a set standard in regards to achieving democratic unions, it does cite key criteria. Included in this list are fair, frequent, and contested elections; open publications and access to education and information; member ratifications of contracts; strike votes; full participation of workers in the grievance process; and elected representatives. [9]

In 1999, AUD co-authored The Manual for Survival for Women in Nontraditional Employment with the NOW Legal Defense and Education Fund, discussing harassment and discrimination in a union setting, and encouraging women to form committees within their unions. The manual points out that if a union does not recognize a women’s committee, a caucus can legally be formed outside of the union, as per the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA). The advice given in the manual is geared towards increasing the overall participation of women in unions. [10]

Association for Union Democracy’s website includes the complete text of the LMRDA and highlights key elements supporting the idea of democratic unions, including the right to criticize union officials, the right to sue the union, and the right to secret-ballot voting. [11]

Funding

While AUD receives occasional funding from left-progressive grantmakers like the New York Women’s Foundation and the North Star Fund,[12] the majority of its funding comes from individual memberships which range from $40 to $1,000. AUD has been experiencing a steady decline in its membership over the years; executive director Kurt Richwerger has said that AUD has “an extremely small base of support” because it is “an organization for union members having problems with their unions.” [13]

People

Founder and Director

Herman Benson founded the AUD in 1969. Benson, who passed away in 2020, was a longtime socialist and the former editor of Labor Action, a publication of the Worker’s Party. Along with law professor Clyde Summers, Benson contributed to the development of the Labor Management Reporting and Disclosure Act of 1959 (LMRDA). Benson published Union Democracy in Action and later Union Democracy Review, newsletters meant to garner support for union reformers and educate and advocate for democracy within unions. [14] Benson was a long time supporter of the work of the Teamsters for a Democratic Union. [15]

Kurt Richwerger is the executive director of AUD.

Board of Directors

The board of directors is almost exclusively comprised of lawyers and law professors including Arthur Fox, a public interest lawyer working within the labor movement;[16] secretary-treasurer Alan Hyde, an expert in global labor rights and consultant to the American Law Institute’s Restatement of Employment Law;[17] and Paul Alan Levy, an attorney with Public Citizen Litigation Group, the legal arm of the Naderite advocacy group Public Citizen, and member of the Legal Review Committee for the American Civil Liberties Union of Washington, D.C.[18] According to tax filings from 2018, Judith Schneider serves as president of the board. [19]

Advisory Board

Arthur Schwartz is a New York City labor and employment lawyer. Schwartz has represented major national labor unions like Utility Workers Union of America, SEIU, and the Emergency Medical Service Workers Union, as well as locals of unions like the Teamsters, the Communications Workers of America, and the American Postal Workers Union. Schwartz served as General Counsel to ACORN from 2009 to 2010, and currently represents New York Communities for Change, Action United, the Black Institute, and Jobs with Justice. [20]

Barbara Ehrenreich served as the vice chair of the Democratic Socialists of America in the 1980s and 1990s. [21]

Bill Fletcher, Jr. is a long-time activist and participant in the labor movement. Fletcher served as senior staff for the national AFL-CIO, the former president of TransAfrica, a senior scholar with the Institute for Policy Studies, and on the editorial board of BlackCommentator.com. [22]

Dan Siegel is an attorney specializing in labor and employment. Siegel ran for mayor of Oakland in 2014 and was endorsed by SEIU Local 1021, Oakland’s largest municipal employees union. [23]

Deborah Meier has been an advocate for the school reform movement since the early 1960s and is outspoken against state-mandated curriculum and standardized testing. She serves on the boards of FairTest, Save Our Schools, and the Center for Collaborative Education, as well as the editorial boards of The Nation, the Harvard Education Letter, and Dissent. [24]

Elaine Bernard is the former executive director of the Labor and Worklife Program at Harvard University, where she worked from 1989-2017. [25] Bernard is a former vice chair of the Democratic Socialists of America. [26]

Helen Hershkoff is a former public interest lawyer at the American Civil Liberties Union and the Legal Aid Society of New York. Hershkoff is currently a co-director of the Arthur Garfield Hays Civil Liberties Program at New York University. [27]

Julian Gonzalez is a lawyer representing unions and workers before the National Labor Relations Board, courts, arbitrators, and in contract negotiations. Gonzalez formerly worked for Teamsters for a Democratic Union, UNITE HERE Local 100, and Make the Road New York. Gonzalez serves on the advisory board of the Teamster Rank and File Education and Legal Defense Foundation. [28]

Nadia Marin-Molina is co-executive director of the National Day Laborer Organizing Network and former executive director of the Workplace Project. [29]

Phyllis Curott is an attorney and Wiccan priestess. Curott is a former member of the United Nations Committee on the Status of Women, and a former legal director for PROD (Professional Drivers Council) and Teamsters for a Democratic Union. [30]

Ray Rogers is a co-founder of Corporate Campaign Inc. (CCI), an organization that strategizes for and organizes labor unions, human rights groups, and environmentalists. Rogers has formerly worked with pro-labor groups like the United Mine Workers Union, the International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers, and the New York City District Council of Carpenters. [31]

Robin Potter is a founding partner of a law firm that litigates labor rights issues and represents whistleblowers in False Claims Act cases. Potter formerly served as a government supervisor in the Laborers’ International Union of North America (LIUNA), and was honored by the Chicago Democratic Socialists of America for her work supporting the labor movement. Potter serves on the board of Advocates for Justice. [32]

Ruben J. Garcia serves on the board of the American Constitution Society for Law and Policy and as a Fellow of the College of Labor and Employment Lawyers. Garcia is the former co-president of the Society of American Law Teachers and formerly served on the board of the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada. [33]

Tim Schermerhorn is a founder of the rank-and-file activist group New Directions within the Transport Workers Union Local 100. [34]

References

  1. Borgos, Samuel. “In Memoriam Herman Benson.” Association for Union Democracy, July 4, 2020. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://uniondemocracy.org/in-memoriam-herman-benson/. ^
  2. “About Us.” Association for Union Democracy. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://uniondemocracy.org/about-us/. ^
  3. “About Us.” Association for Union Democracy. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://uniondemocracy.org/about-us/. ^
  4. “AUD’s Union Democracy Benchmarks.” Association for Union Democracy. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://uniondemocracy.org/legal-rights-and-organizing/questions-and-answers-about-legal-rights-and-union-democracy/auds-union-democracy-benchmarks/. ^
  5. “Women in non-traditional trades: working for change.” Association for Union Democracy. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://uniondemocracy.org/women-in-non-traditional-trades-working-for-change/. ^
  6. Borgos, Samuel. “In Memoriam Herman Benson.” Association for Union Democracy, July 4, 2020. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://uniondemocracy.org/in-memoriam-herman-benson/. ^
  7. “About Us.” Association for Union Democracy. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://uniondemocracy.org/about-us/. ^
  8. “About Us.” Association for Union Democracy. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://uniondemocracy.org/about-us/. ^
  9. “AUD’s Union Democracy Benchmarks.” Association for Union Democracy. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://uniondemocracy.org/legal-rights-and-organizing/questions-and-answers-about-legal-rights-and-union-democracy/auds-union-democracy-benchmarks/. ^
  10. “Women in non-traditional trades: working for change.” Association for Union Democracy. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://uniondemocracy.org/women-in-non-traditional-trades-working-for-change/. ^
  11. “Union Member’s Bill of Rights.” Association for Union Democracy. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://uniondemocracy.org/legal-rights-and-organizing/about-the-lmrda-and-the-union-members-bill-of-rights/union-members-bill-of-rights/. ^
  12. “Annual Report 2015.” North Star Fund. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://northstarfund.org/wp-content/uploads/2018/03/North_Star_Fund_2015_Annual_Report.pdf. ^
  13. Whalen, Charles J. New Directions in the Study of Work and Employment: Revitalizing Industrial Relations As an Academic Enterprise (Northampton, MA: Edward Elgar Publishing, Inc., 2008) 103. https://books.google.ca/books?id=HLObmbHZf14C&pg=PA103&lpg=PA103&dq=Kurt+Richwerger&source=bl&ots=wTh_qOZIbo&sig=ACfU3U2h6O_Q6HcnCECOx2ZWSuf–UbFwQ&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwifoNbktbbqAhWooHIEHcNaB9MQ6AEwB3oECAkQAQ#v=onepage&q=Kurt%20Richwerger&f=false. ^
  14. Borgos, Samuel. “In Memoriam Herman Benson.” Association for Union Democracy, July 4, 2020. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://uniondemocracy.org/in-memoriam-herman-benson/. ^
  15. “Herman Benson: A One-Man Army Working to Revitalize the Labor Movement.” Teamsters for a Democratic Union, 2015. Accessed July 5, 2020. http://www.tdu.org/herman_benson_a_one_man_army_working_to_revitalize_the_labor_movement. ^
  16. Fox, Arthur. “Inequality: The defining challenge of our time.” Association for Union Democracy. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://uniondemocracy.org/inequality-the-defining-challenge-of-our-time/. ^
  17. “Alan Hyde.” Rutgers. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://law.rutgers.edu/directory/view/hyde. ^
  18. “Paul Alan Levy.” Public Citizen, 2020. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://www.citizen.org/article/paul-alan-levy-new/. ^
  19. Association for Union Democracy Inc, Return of Organization Exempt From Income Tax (Form 990EZ), 2018, Part IV. ^
  20. “Arthur Schwartz.” Advocates for Justice Chartered Attorneys, 2012. Accessed July 5, 2020. http://www.afjlaw.com/about-us/arthur-schwartz/. ^
  21. Wallace-Wells, Benjamin. “How the Democratic Socialists of America Learned to Love Cynthia Nixon.” The New Yorker, August 2, 2018. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://www.newyorker.com/news/news-desk/how-the-democratic-socialists-of-america-learned-to-love-cynthia-nixon-and-electoral-politics. ^
  22. “About Bill Fletcher Jr.” Bill Fletcher Jr. Accessed July 5, 2020. http://billfletcherjr.com/. ^
  23. “Oakland: Dan Siegel is union’s top choice for mayor.” The Mercury News, August 4, 2014. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://www.mercurynews.com/2014/08/04/oakland-dan-siegel-is-unions-top-choice-for-mayor/. ^
  24. “Meet the Panelists.” Slate School. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://slateschool.org/panel-bios. ^
  25. “Elaine Bernard.” The President and Fellows of Harvard College, 2020. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://lwp.law.harvard.edu/people/elaine-bernard. ^
  26. “Our Structure.” Democratic Socialists of America. Archived from the original January 8, 2013. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://web.archive.org/web/20130108173528/http://www.dsausa.org/about/structure.html. ^
  27. “Helen Hershkoff.” New York University School of Law, 2020. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://its.law.nyu.edu/facultyprofiles/index.cfm?fuseaction=profile.overview&personid=19991. ^
  28. “Julian Gonzalez.” Lewis, Clifton & Nikolaidis, P.C. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://www.lcnlaw.com/gonzalez.htm. ^
  29. “Meet Our Team.” National Day Laborer Organizing Network (NDLON), 2020. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://ndlon.org/about-us/staff/. ^
  30. Mignola, Mike. The Dark Horse Book of Horror (Niles, CA: Dark House Books, 2017) 152. https://books.google.com/books?id=CbwvDwAAQBAJ&pg=PA152&lpg=PA152&dq=Phyllis+Curott+Association+for+Union+Democracy&source=bl&ots=Hx6dytdy6N&sig=ACfU3U07zMnvHVm4tJDK6c7z0RR8v1fkjw&hl=en&sa=X&ved=2ahUKEwiPx93AxrbqAhUjmXIEHUbaBZcQ6AEwAXoECAsQAQ#v=onepage&q=Phyllis%20Curott%20Association%20for%20Union%20Democracy&f=false. ^
  31. “Biographical Sketch of Ray Rogers.” Corporate Campaign, Inc. Accessed July 5, 2020. http://corporatecampaign.org/ray_rogers_bio.php. ^
  32. “Robin Potter.” Potter Bolanos LLC, Attorneys at Law, 2020. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://www.potterlaw.org/legal-team/robin-potter/. ^
  33. “Ruben J. Garcia.” William S. Boyd School of Law, 2020. Accessed July 5, 2020. https://law.unlv.edu/faculty/ruben-garcia. ^
  34. “Tim Schermerhorn.” The Petra Foundation. Accessed July 5, 2020. http://petrafoundation.org/fellows/tim-schermerhorn/index.html. ^
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Nonprofit Information

  • Accounting Period: December - November
  • Tax Exemption Received: January 1, 1971

  • Available Filings

    Period Form Type Total revenue Total functional expenses Total assets (EOY) Total liabilities (EOY) Unrelated business income? Total contributions Program service revenue Investment income Comp. of current officers, directors, etc. Form 990
    2017 Dec Form 990EZ $109,635 $100,807 $115,642 $5,780 $0 $0 $0 $0
    2015 Dec Form 990EZ $140,756 $161,941 $136,711 $8,119 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2014 Dec Form 990EZ $124,607 $138,521 $159,433 $9,656 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2013 Dec Form 990EZ $107,915 $145,634 $42,730 $8,335 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2012 Dec Form 990EZ $144,545 $126,932 $80,159 $8,045 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF
    2011 Dec Form 990EZ $114,048 $130,984 $62,545 $8,044 $0 $0 $0 $0 PDF

    Additional Filings (PDFs)

    Association for Union Democracy

    104 MONTGOMERY ST
    BROOKLYN, NY 11225-2008