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ACORN and its Connection to Organized Labor

We have been reporting a bit on the Association of Community Organizations for Reform (ACORN) this week on the Union Label Blog and ACORN is an organization that bears close watch. It was reported that ACORN made $2.9 million from organized labor last year and a lot of this money seems to be slipping past Federal regulators raising significant questions of ACORN ties to big labor.

This money paid to ACORN supposedly covered the expenses for a number of shadowy union activities.

  • Training organizers to devise and implement anti-corporate campaigns
  • Providing “strike support”
  • Conducting campaign research and providing staffing
  • “Protecting market share”

Some of these services ware also paid on retainer and not just after services rendered.

ACORN has developed very close ties to the labor movement becoming a sort of “one-stop shop for unions looking to contract out labor activities,” according to Maverick Strategies. ACORN’s efforts have thus far flown under the radar for Federal regulatory agencies that act as watchdogs and regulators over union activities.

ACORN has, for instance, worked closely with the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and the United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW). Most notably ACORN served to train SEIU staffers in the anti-Wal-Mart efforts the SIEU launched in the last few years.

Some of ACORN’s recent activities are as follows:

  • SEIU paid ACORN founder and chief of anti-Wal-Mart strategies Wade Rathke $21,885 in salary and $5,233 in expenses for the role of “campaign project organizer.”
  • SEIU gave $50,000 contribution to “Walmart Associations” in the care of Wade Rathke
  • SEIU paid a $126,000 “subsidy” to Wal-Mart Alliance for Reform Now, operated by ACORN
  • Change to Win paid ACORN $30,000 for a “public awareness campaign.”
  • SEIU twice awarded ACORN a $40,000 “monthly retainer.”
  • SEIU paid more than $970,000 to ACORN’s ACLOC program for “training.”
  • SEIU Local 5 paid ACLOC $58,487 for an internship phase and for an “organizing partnership.”
  • UFCW hired ACLOC as a “consultant for organizing program” at a cost of $429,431
  • UFCW Local 876 paid $131,089 for a “community standards program.”

ACORN is also on record as providing direct staffing for various labor union efforts and programs as opposed to mere training and consultancy work, as well.

This close relationship raises questions as to whether ACORN should fall under Federal regulations as a labor organization.

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