This article first appeared at The McAlvany Intelligence Advisor on Monday, December 8, 2014:
If Wikipedia is to be believed, the Association for Community Organizations for Reform Now – ACORN – no longer exists:
At its peak ACORN had over 500,000 members and more than 1,200 neighborhood chapters in over 100 cities across the US….
Its U.S. offices filed for Chapter 7 liquidation on November 2, 2010, effectively closing the organization.
Except for this pesky footnote:
Many ACORN members and organizers formed new state-wide organizations.
One of those freshly-minted state-wide organizations is Fast Food Forward (FFF), located in the same building with the same second-floor office address as New York Communities for Change (NYCC), which received nearly $2.5 million from the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in 2012. The New York Post reported that the NYCC is the dregs of Brooklyn’s former ACORN office.
Far from being deceased or even dormant, FFF’s “organizing director,” Kendall Falls, was given prominent mention in a lawsuit announced by New York’s Attorney General Eric Schneiderman against the owner of five Papa John’s pizza parlors:
Fast-food workers all across the city and country are organizing for higher pay and union rights….
This suit shows why the campaign is so important. And it shows that Attorney General Schneiderman is serious about holding fast-food companies accountable for wage theft.
This gruesome twosome wants to extort some $2 million from Ron Johnson, the franchisee-owner of those pizza parlors, to punish him for allegedly underpaying more than 400 pizza delivery drivers in downtown Manhattan.
It worked before. Back in March, 2013 Schneiderman reached a “settlement” with six Domino’s Pizza franchise holders for not paying their people the minimum wage, overtime, or reimbursing them for personal vehicle expenses. The amount of the settlement is unknown, but $500,000 was extracted by threat of force at the same time from the Cisneros Group, the owner of several McDonald’s restaurants also allegedly guilty of the same crimes.
This is called “ramping up.” When one strategy doesn’t work, try another one. The first effort by FFF to generate union membership from fast-food workers began with $10 million in funding from the SEIU to organize protests in more than 100 cities where franchise owners were conducting “wage theft” from their employees. It failed miserably. The walkout, lie-down, sit-down “strike” was supposed to involve thousands of disgruntled minimum-wage workers who would walk off their jobs and shut down their parlors and restaurants, thus forcing the owners to recant, come to the table to discuss “terms” and “conditions,” and allow the SEIU to recruit new dues-paying members into its ever shrinking membership.
The big day was September 4, and union “sources” leaked how successful those protests were. USA Today was only too happy to announce victory: more than 430 workers had sacrificed their jobs on the altar of justice and righteousness – they were fired and immediately replaced with others just waiting for the opportunity to take their places. These workers, according to Bruce Horowitz, writing for the paper, “demonstrating for higher wages in dozens of cities, were arrested, organizers estimate.”
Not the hundreds of cities targeted, please note, but dozens.
The arrest numbers were fudged as well. A close look at the carnage wrought by disaffected employees revealed just 19 workers arrested outside a McDonald’s at New York’s Times Square, along with 25 in West Milwaukee and a few in Detroit. Far from the 430 “estimated” by union sources, but, hey, it’s worth it. The same Kendall Fells who has successfully inserted himself into the AG’s office in New York explained that in order to make an omelet, a few eggs must be broken:
There has to be civil disobedience because workers don’t see any other way to get $15 an hour and a union.
There’s a long history of this, from the civil rights movement to the farm workers movement.
This caught the attention of people at Americans for Limited Government (ALG) who not only saw through the subterfuge and smokescreen, but publicly questioned the tight and tidy relationship between the AG and FFF. Said Rick Manning, ALG’s communications director:
[FFF is] basically out to unionize the fast-food work force and to campaign for a minimum-wage increase. They are targeting non-union companies and applying pressure.
What we are seeing in New York and other parts of the country is an effort to use government as an organizing tool for unions.
In short, if persuasion doesn’t work, force (or the threat of same) will. Nathan Mehrens, ALG’s president, was even more forthright about what’s afoot here:
ACORN’s abuses of the public trust were so grievous that Congress denied them funding and shut them down.
Now, SEIU is recycling these same bad apples, hoping no one notices that their effort is nothing more than a rotten-to-the-core extortion scheme.
Brazen frontal attacks to pressure fast-food workers to join their union and pay them dues face nearly insurmountable obstacles. First off, most of the minimum-wage workers are just glad to have a job and couldn’t care less about being unionized. Secondly, for many, a minimum-wage job is a stepping-stone to a better, higher-paying job and they don’t want the baggage of union membership sullying their résumés. Thirdly, turnover in the fast-food industry is legendary – often exceeding 50 percent in a year – so the extraction of dues and replacing those who have left with new members – would be a nightmare for the unions.
In addition, public support for union thugs hibernating inside the SEIU continues to drop. The latest from Pew Research (February, 2014) showed the “long downward slide for unions,” both in absolute numbers (11.9 million in 1983 to 7.3 million in 2013) and in percentage of all US wage and salary workers (20% in 1983 to 11 percent in 2013). Put another way, in thirty years, union membership in the US has dropped by nearly 50 percent.
ACORN is back from the dead and as evil as ever. If it succeeds in its lawsuit against Papa John’s franchise owner Ron Johnson, it will ramp it up further to punish other capitalists offering entry-level jobs to people willing to take them. But those franchise owners are likely to simply to close up shop and move to where their efforts, and their capital, are better appreciated. This would leave the SEIU and its tentacles further sullied in the eyes of the public, and the people who would work for those pizza parlor owners unemployed. Just the sort of legacy the SEIU can ill afford as its credibility, and its membership, continue to decline.
Daily Signal: Union, Prosecutor Team to Push Papa John’s to Pay More
Business Insider: Why Today’s Fast Food Wage Protests Won’t Force Companies To Pony Up