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Local Unions to Picket ACORN - March 29, 2001

By Jon Bekken

Members of the Industrial Workers of the World and other area unions will picket the annual Friends of the People banquet, sponsored by the Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now, Thursday evening. The banquet, held at the Omni Parker House hotel in Boston, begins at 6 p.m.

The I.W.W. has asked scheduled honoree Robert Haynes, president of the Massachusetts state AFL-CIO, to join the picket line in solidarity with ACORN workers who have been locked-out and fired in retaliation for exercising their right to unionize. Haynes agreed Wednesday that he would honor the picket line.

The IWW launched an unfair labor practices strike against the Philadelphia ACORN office February 8, protesting escalating harassment of union organizing committee members. Management responded by illegally firing the striking workers. IWW members struck ACORN's Seattle office Feb. 26 after management reneged on a pledge to recognize the union. When the strikers (including every employee in the office) made an unconditional offer to return to work pending a union representation election, ACORN responded by importing scabs from out of state to take their jobs. Unfair labor practice charges are pending with the National Labor Relations Board on these disputes, and on an incident in Dallas where ACORN laid-off workers it learned had attended a union organizing meeting.

IWW General Secretary-Treasurer Alexis Buss finds ACORN's resistance to unionization ironic. "ACORN's People's Platform supports unions, insisting that workers fired for union activity should get five times their back pay. One of ACORN's founders, Wade Rathke, is also a vice president of SEIU, and president of HOTROC, a hotel workers union in New Orleans. Right now, Mr. Rathke is leading a campaign for management neutrality, urging employers to stay neutral instead of fighting against their workers' organizing efforts. Meanwhile, ACORN is firing unionists and engaging in the very activity it claims to oppose.".