ACORN Action in Philadelphia
April 6, 2001
On Friday, April 6, ACORN employees fired for organizing a union and union supporters will picket outside the Philadelphia ACORN office at 846 North Broad. Ex-workers and supporters are set to picket because ACORN flew Philadelphia workers and its head organizer to Seattle to replace locked out Seattle ACORN workers, who support unionization. ACORN is a national community organization that fights for justice in low- and moderate-income communities and often allies itself with unions. However when a majority of Philadelphia ACORN organizers and 100% of Seattle ACORN workers asked for union recognition of their union, the Industrial Workers of the World, management refused saying that workers need to organize nationwide in order for ACORN management to recognize their union.
In Dallas and Philadelphia workers have been fired in retaliation for their union activity. Unfair Labor Practice charges are pending against ACORN with the National Labor Relations Board. ACORN management claims that because its revenue comes mostly from the membership dues of poor people, it is impossible to give into workers' demands of eight hour days, working in pairs after dark, and guaranteed lunch breaks. However, ACORN's own documents reveal that the organization received 2.7 million dollars in grants in the past year.
ACORN also fails to abide by overtime laws. "We worked at least 54 hours a week and never received overtime pay. But ACORN finds money to fly workers from Philadelphia to scab on workers in Seattle who have filed for a union election and who want to go back to work," says Ozzie Sims, a worker fired for organizing in Philadelphia. "Where is the members' money really going?"
The turnover rate of ACORN employees is very high, with many employees working only a few weeks before quitting. In Philadelphia, workers were attacked, robbed at gunpoint, and harassed while walking alone at night after dark. Union supporters claim that bargaining collectively will improve conditions, causing workers to stay with the organization longer, which will ultimately strengthen ACORN.