Earlier this year, a case titled Janus v. AFSCME made its way to the Supreme Court. If a negative ruling striking down 40 years of precedent against labor rights is handed down, the case could potentially have many consequences for working families including lowering wages, benefits and job protections. If you have ever wondered to yourself how a case like that ends up in front of the Supreme Court, I would like to introduce to you an organization called The Fairness Center (TFC).
The Fairness Center is a “non-profit” law firm that operates here in Pennsylvania with offices in Harrisburg and King of Prussia. This firm shares an office building with the anti-union Commonwealth Foundation and Senator Scott Wagner’s gubernatorial campaign. I use the quotation marks around ‘non-profit’ because TFC is not what you would typically consider to be your standard not for profit organization. Nothing The Fairness Center does benefits the general welfare of Pennsylvanians. In fact, this firm is not even registered as an organization in Pennsylvania. The Fairness Center is registered in Oklahoma City, Oklahoma. If you’re asking yourself why an organization registered in Oklahoma City has offices in Pennsylvania, you’re not alone.
The Fairness Center is a front group for billionaire donors which include the Koch Brothers and other defunct billionaires’ right wing foundations including Pennsylvania’s Scaife Foundation. They are partially funded through Donors Trust, which has been described as a “murky money maze” of corporate influence and unaccountable money that creates a disinformation campaign and outright lies, particularly targeted at labor unions. The anti-worker funders behind the previously mentioned Janus V. AFSCME case who bankrolled this lawsuit are designed in the same way as The Fairness Center.
Infographic design: Rachel Dooley
The Fairness Center’s sole purpose is to drive frivolous lawsuits against labor unions through the courts in Pennsylvania in hopes to create new regulations and strike down pro-worker laws making it harder for working families to get ahead. This firm has sued teachers in Reading, Allentown, and Philadelphia. They have sued to stop homecare workers from having a voice in their job to represent their clients. Also, TFC filed a legal injunction to prevent graduate employees from forming a union at Penn State University which led the administration, who have waged a particularly nasty anti-union campaign, to ask the out of state interests in the Fairness Center to stay away. They have recently gotten involved in a firefighter’s dispute in Connecticut and are the ambulance chasers of union busting.
In addition to all this, The Fairness Center is not very good at what it does. The frivolous cases TFC has filed have been riddled with errors. These cases have been dismissed for lack of standing. Their failures are starting to stack up, but due to the bankrolling of the organization by billionaire funders, this is not a concern for them. The reason TFC files these cases is tie up resources that would otherwise benefit working families and to bust unions across Pennsylvania. With their funders’ deep pockets, they will continue filing these cases.
PA Spotlight works to expose and bring accountability to front groups like The Fairness Center. If you are looking for more information or have a tip you would like to share about TFC, or the firm’s anti-union partners in the Commonwealth Foundation, you can visit www.PaSpotlight.org or find us on social media and share our materials. Getting involved with groups like For Pennsylvania’s Future is a great first step. If reading this has rightfully made you mad that out-of-state interests bankrolled by billionaires are trying to bust unions in Pennsylvania, please take a minute to sign our petition on The Fairness Center calling on them to stop attacking Pennsylvania workers.