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SEIU & ACORN: Guilt by Association

seiustrongerThe Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has become a favorite target of the extreme right wing. As SEIU becomes a more significant force for change in this country, we are going to continue to be hit by the same extreme right-wing attack machine that is trying to block healthcare reform and regulatory reform – the change this country needs to help working families and to rebuild the middle class.

The radical right in this country wants nothing more than to make SEIU, grassroots community groups, and any individual who fights against the status quo their next casualty. They are seeking to silence the voices of those men and women who suffered the most under 8 years of extreme right-wing policies, and to smear anyone who stands up for those men and women. Right now, there are daily attacks from conservative radio and TV pundits on us for our work on healthcare, labor rights, immigration, and our working relationship with community and progressive organizations – most recently ACORN.

ACORN-LogoACORN has come under fire for video footage recorded by undercover operatives posing as a prostitute and her companion seeking tax and housing advice at five ACORN offices across the country. The behaviors we’ve seen on these videos as well some past improper handling of voter registration materials by individuals are unacceptable and ACORN did the right thing by taking immediate action against the responsible individuals. While over the years SEIU has contracted with ACORN for voter registration, canvassing efforts, and organizing work, the union has suspended all active work with ACORN. SEIU President Andy Stern recently joined the Advisory Council of ACORN to provide guidance as they evaluate some recent troubles they have had. Along with John Podesta, Kathleen Kennedy Townsend and other Advisory Council members, Andy Stern has encouraged ACORN to take dramatic steps to resolve their underlying organizational problems, and has supported a thorough, top-to-bottom review into ACORN’s systems and processes, led by former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger.

It should be noted that there are no ACORN offices or staff in Tennessee, nor has SEIU Local 205 worked with them in any official capacity.

At the same time, we must recognize the important need for services and organizations that address issues faced by low- and moderate-income families. ACORN’s challenge, if they want to continue to be a national organization that provides these services, is to immediately conduct an internal investigation to swiftly and completely root out their underlying problems and make sure these issues never come up again.

livingwageOur challenge – and that of the progressive community – is to make sure that the critical work of voter registration and campaigns for better housing, schools, neighborhood safety, healthcare, and job conditions continues so we can lift people out of poverty and help rebuild our economy. Furthermore, we refuse to let smear attempts from the radical right deter us from our own goals of passing affordable healthcare, fixing our broken immigration system, and building an economy that works for everyone.

Mark Naccarato
Mark Naccaratohttp://www.seiu205.org/blog/Default.aspx
Mark Naccarato is Political and Communications Coordinator for SEIU Local 205, a labor union committed to improving the lives of working families across Tennessee.


  1. More people are rising out of poverty than ever and the poor are getting richer. The so called “extreme right wing” trying to block health care reform is the slim majority of people who actually contribute to the Federal Government by paying taxes since now almost half pay no Federal tax at all. Acorn should be dismantled for the worthless, corrupt organization that it is. I refuse to let the far left use scare tactics and false information to promote more debt for this nation. People who could afford health care if they’d prioritize their spending, now want something else from the government. What ever happened to “Ask not what your country can do for you?” I guess that concept of responsibility and self-worth left with President Kennedy.

  2. I will cry for the rich people you are sticking up for once they are back at the tax rate they had when Ronald Reagan was in office.

    Your concern over the debt is touching, Scott. Where was that concern when your President, George W. Bush ran up the debt? Remember, we had it all paid off when that evil liberal Bill Clinton left office. And also remember that the Bush Administration never even counted the cost of the war on the balance sheet – typical crooked bookmaking from the Republicans that President Obama has ended.

    And there are no “scare tactics and false information being used to promote more debt for this nation”. I am assuming you are talking about healthcare reform and obviously you don’t understand the reality of the situation. There is a legitimate crisis and tens of millions of Americans either can’t afford to buy health insurance or they are not permitted to buy it because of pre-existing conditions. I also assume you live in Clarksville and I would think that since it is a military town, you would have more respect for the concept of “socialized medicine” since every active duty member, their family members, and retired person in the Clarksville area has it. And there will be little debt for the nation as all current projections are showing that the reform package will be deficit-neutral between 10 and 20 years.

    But you don’t really care about any of that, no matter how much you pretend to – otherwise you would have protested the war in Iraq which has bankrupted the nation and was predicated on blatant lies and misinformation. You oppose healthcare reform because Obama and the Democrats (and the American people) are for it. You and the rest of the Teabaggers see the healthcare debate as a win/lose scenario, not as a decision on what’s best for the country or you would support it.

    That’s fine. Just realize that you and your kind are against the American people, that the people know it, and that they will punish you for it at the polls next year and for the forseeable future.

  3. But that’s not true Scott.

    Between the late 1970s and the mid-1990s, the average income of lowest-income families with children fell by more than 20 percent. The average income of high-income families rose by nearly 30 percent; the incomes of the middle-fifth families fell by more than 2 percent.

    Ten percent of the U.S. population owns 81.8 percent of the real estate, 81.2 percent of the stock, and 88 percent of the bonds.Ten percent of American households own 72 percent of the total wealth.

    One percent of the U.S. population owns sixty percent of the stock and forty percent of the total wealth. Two percent of U.S. wealth holders own 54 percent of all net financial assets; more than half of families had no financial assets, or owe more than they own.

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