Bruce Bartlett

According to a Dec. 25 report in the Boston Globe, the Democratic Party is joining forces with the activist group ACORN (Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now) to place initiatives on state ballots this fall to raise the minimum wage. The idea is to energize the poor to vote for Democratic candidates, as well as the initiative.
 
 ACORN's involvement in this campaign is amusing because a few years ago the group sued the state of California in order to be exempted from its minimum wage requirement, which was higher than the federal government's. In its appellate brief, ACORN acknowledged that the more it had to pay each worker, the fewer such workers it would be able to hire. Of course, the same thing is true for businesses, as well --  something minimum wage advocates refuse to admit.

  Furthermore, ACORN argued that paying its workers less than the minimum wage aided its organizing efforts. Said the brief, "A person paid limited sums of money will be in a better position to empathize with and relate to the low and moderate membership and constituency of ACORN." Somehow I doubt that a business catering to those with low incomes would get any sympathy from ACORN if it made the same argument.

  Indeed, ACORN has a history of denying its workers rights that it demands from corporations. For example, its "People's Platform" says that all workers have the right to organize. Yet, when its own workers have tried to do so, ACORN strenuously fought them.

  In 2001, all of the workers in ACORN's Seattle office signed cards stating a desire to join the Industrial Workers of the World, a labor union with a long history of radicalism. ACORN's management refused to recognize the union and locked out the workers. Eventually, ACORN relented and paid a $20,000 settlement. Afterward, an IWW organizer said, "This underscores further the doublespeak that causes their workers to unionize or resign in disgust, and it shows that (ACORN's leaders) have learned nothing about workers' rights."

  That same year, ACORN intimidated and fired workers in its Dallas office for threatening to organize. In 2003, the National Labor Relations Board found that it had violated the law. Said the NLRB, "By interrogating employees about their union activities, by informing employees that other employees have been discharged because of the union, by threatening employees that selecting the union to represent them will be futile and by threatening employees with discharge, respondent has violated section 8(a) of the act."


Bruce Bartlett

Bruce Bartlett is a former senior fellow with the National Center for Policy Analysis of Dallas, Texas. Bartlett is a prolific author, having published over 900 articles in national publications, and prominent magazines and published four books, including Reaganomics: Supply-Side Economics in Action.

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