Union Free America


ACORN and the Labor Unions


ACORN, the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, has been controversial for many years. In the 2008 elections it achieved prominence both because of President Barack Obama’s previous association with it and because of the questionable legality of several of its voter registration activities. More recently ACORN has been demonstrated to be what some regard as a “criminal enterprise.” 

Another ongoing controversy is the extent to which union officials give their members’ dues dollars to organizations not supported by the members. This issue arises most often in the context of employees trapped in compulsory unionism arrangements. Under several U.S. Supreme Court decision won by the National Right to Work Foundation, employees have the right to resign from the union and pay an “agency fee” instead of union dues. Further, they have the right to object to the use of their dues for anything other than union representation. 

Both of those elements come crashing together when it comes to labor union support of ACORN. 

Union members are assisted in the search for information about this by the U.S. Department of Labor’s very useful web site for union financial disclosure reports. (http://www.unionreports.gov) It contains a “payer/payee” search function so that by entering the name of the organization in question you can search the reports for all unions, and by modifying the reporting year, all the years of reports that are searchable online. 

Between 2005 and 2008, the years immediately available online, labor unions reported giving a total of $8,618,092 to ACORN.

 The big spender was the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) with $4,019,606 of the $8,618,092. The United Food and Commercial Workers (UFCW) came in 2nd with a total of $2,189,270.

Also, of interest is that the totals were pretty even for the years.
2005   $2,469,139
2006   $1,985,921
2007   $2,032,856
2008   $2,135,176 

The unions attributed these expenditures to different types of activity, as is required by regulations. Of the total, $7,013,081 was attributed to "Representational Activities"; $768,027 to "Political Activities"; and $592,783 to "Contributions, Gifts & Grants." I've got some suspicions about this. 

It is a real stretch of the imagination to think how giving money to ACORN can be regarded as a “representational activity,” but by so doing the union set it up so that they can collect contributions for ACORN from agency fee payers who object to paying for anything but the cost of union representation.

If you would like additional information on this please send us an email.

Updated 9/29/09


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