Longtime ACORN Target is Bankrupt

Published Thu, Oct 22 2009 1:00 PM

Today's Wall Street Journal had an interesting article that mentioned the effect of the General Growth Property (GGP) bankruptcy. GGP had long been a target of ACORN and SEIU. They stood out, because they fought back against ACORN's "Muscle for Money" campaign.

In 2007 the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) sought to organize janitors at GGP malls. SEIU requested that GGP enter into a neutrality agreement with the union and agree to recognize the union once a majority of employees' signatures had been collected in support of the union. SEIU was asking GGP to acquiesce to "card check" recognition rather than allowing the employees the right to a secret ballot vote to determine their representation.

General Growth Properties did not give in to the demands of SEIU. SEIU then set about organizing a "corporate campaign" against GGP. In order to mount this campaign SEIU enlisted ACORN and paid them over $140,000.

GGP recounts that as part of the corporate campaign SEIU attempted to "distract and embarrass" the company. Tactics used included:

  • "Using sham 'public interest' groups financed by the union to attack GGP's reputation and credibility. These groups partner with labor organizations to provide a biased analysis of targeted companies and industries. So-called 'reliable independent research' - riddled with bias, misrepresentation and omission -- is then disseminated to the public as fact."
  • "Making allegations and filing unsubstantiated claims with government agencies, then implying in handbills and press releases that the claims -- before they are even investigated, let alone proved -- are fact. Recently, it took one government agency only a few weeks to toss out as groundless charges of racial bias leveled by SEIU operatives."
  • "Protests, demonstrations, marches and picketing on or near GGP property, often by paid operatives, not legitimate employee activists or volunteers"
  • "Distribution of flyers disparaging the company"

SEIU also launched a website entitle www.insideggpmalls.org. The now defunct website include such inflammatory language as "GGP, Behind the Industry Curve," "GGP Malls, (Sweat) Shopping Centers," "GGP Growing at Whose Expense? Yours."

Protests were organized at GGP malls nationwide. For example on September 9, 2007 workers went on a one day strike, this was "part of a wave of protests at more than 20 GGP malls nationwide."

SEIU chose not to conduct this campaign on its own. Rather than relying on union staff and the would-be union members to protest GGP, SEIU enlisted the help of ACORN. The ACORN Community Labor Organizing Center (ACLOC) boasts of its efforts to work with SEIU to organize janitors.

The ACLOC website discusses its "Justice for Janitors in Houston" efforts. While it does not explicitly name GGP as the target, it does discuss how it organized protests on behalf of SEIU. ACLOC trained SEIU organizers to lead the janitor organizing efforts. But ACORN didn't stop there. ACORN provided the bodies and manpower to lead the protests. For example, in a protest in Houston, ACORN provided over 300 bodies "to show support for janitors."

ACORN's support of the SEIU corporate campaign against GGP wasn't a cheap affair. In 2007, according to union financial reports filed with the Department of Labor, the SEIU National Headquarters paid ACORN and ACLOC a total of $145,018 for the "GGP CAMPAIGN." Organizing is a core union activity that SEIU has seen fit to delegate to ACORN.

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