Recently I wrote about the background of the men behind the NYC Fast Food workers walk-out that Salon.com didn’t cover. That article hit the high notes on the occupy, ACORN and union ties behind New York Communities for Change (NYCC). We saw a lot of layers of people and organizations, but at the very bottom of it we came back to the same agitators just using new names. Bear with me, these organizations are like peeling an onion – as soon as you think you’ve hit the center, you find another layer.
There was a second entity mentioned in the Salon article that I did not cover at the time, Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago (WOCC). If you Google WOCC, it pulls a site titled #FightFor 15. They also have a Facebook presence and are on Twitter. This group, #FF15, has just formed its own union (video here). The WOCC/FF15 site has this opening message about who they are:
We are the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago (WOCC) a union of Chicago retail and food workers who have come together to fight for respect and a livable wage of $15.00 an hour. We representing over 100 different employers, our backgrounds and stories differ greatly but we have all struggled to survive and support our families despite our hard work.
Same message as NYCC; vignettes of workers wanting more money and to goal of raising the minimum wage. The WOCC/#FF15 site is devoid of any real contact information. While digging around on for who was running #FF15 which led to a dead-end for now, I ran into another group called ActionNow.Org, which had endorsed #FF15. From the Action Now About page:
Action Now’s mission is to organize working families and strengthen their voices on issues of racial, social and economic justice. Action Now is active on issues that include foreclosure and vacant properties, school improvement, access to health care, living wage jobs, utility costs, immigrant rights, public safety, (both antiviolence and criminal justice reform), and environmental justice.
Action Now is a big cheerleader for WOCC/#FF15 and are also pushing for minimum wage increases. (Read: Veto Session: Time To Raise The Minimum Wage) I checked out their ‘contact us‘ page because shockingly they actually had one. I ran a search on the address along with the lead contact name, name Katelyn Johnson, and figured out pretty quick that ActionNow.org’s site was tied to Action Now Institute (ANI). Also, the donate page for ActionNow.Org had the same address listed as Action Now Institute of 820 W. Jackson. Suite 330. Chicago, IL 60607.
ANI is a non-profit originally set up by a woman called Ruth Orme-Johnson, who is no longer with ANI but has joined a similar group in Boston called United for A Fair Economy. The person currently listed as President on the 2010 990 form I found for ANI is one Annie Harris. In 2010, their receipts totaled nearly a quarter of a million dollars. Not too shabby.
Annie Harris is all over the ActionNow.Org site. She’s even been arrested for dumping trash Occupy style in the Bank of America lobby with some of her pals. Feisty older lady, for sure. Harris isn’t listed on the ANI’s site, interestingly enough.
The three principles listed are Katelyn Johnson, Dan Kleinman and Aileen Kelleher. Johnson’s bio is pretty straight forward; her big gig is the teachers union and it is no surprise she was involved in the recent strikes. Johnson worked for ACORN from October ’04 to September ’06 — she, of course, left that off her bio at ANI however. Kleinman is our occupier. Kelleher is our union tie. Her father is Keith Kelleher, a semi-big shot with the SEIU in Chicago who penned the brief Growth of a Modern Union Local: A peoples history of SEIU Local 880. We get a double bonus with Keith Kelleher, he was involved with ACORN too. Jennifer Rubin wrote in Commentary Magazine in 2009, emphasis added:
As the full extent of ACORN’s corruption and criminality is revealed, we are also learning about ACORN’s special friend, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), one of the most militant and active unions in the country. It turns out that the two organizations are quite chummy:
The SEIU’s parent organization has paid ACORN for training, voter registration and other organizing work, and SEIU locals have paid ACORN affiliates for their services, according to union reports. ACORN founder Wade Rathke was a top member of the SEIU’s board until last year and founded two SEIU locals — in Chicago and New Orleans. SEIU President Andy Stern serves on an advisory panel that was supposed to help ACORN fix financial problems after an embezzlement was discovered last year. Other leaders have served both ACORN and the SEIU, including Keith Kelleher, who headed SEIU Local 880 and also served in an ACORN staff position, and whose wife ran the ACORN office in Illinois.
So, what are we seeing here? A collection of social and economic justice groups cropping up right and left. Each with ties to one or more of three former agitator groups: ACORN, Unions, Occupy. If you look, most of these respectable looking non-profit groups were formed after 2009. Most you will find started around 2010. If you have been paying attention, you know that Occupy was a planned event. It was community organized and directed by professional agitators, unions, former ACORN staffers, Code Pink and more groups along those same far left lines. These non-profits suddenly coming into view were also planned. Instead of staying in the background as they did when Occupy first came onto the scene, unions and related groups are now out in the open. (Read: Wal-Mart Employees Planning Black Friday Strike – Video (UPDATES))
This move to legitimacy was also planned. Occupation and violent protests were sort of the opening scene of a play. This is Act Two. These non-profits lend a respectability to the protests they praise. We’ve seen NYCC and Action Now both present at recent protests (ones they helped organize) and be the ‘corporate spokesperson’ type face to the media. This is pretty insidious. I contend this is the unions taking control in a Tea Party style fashion from the bottom up. The main difference being this version of occupy has foot soldiers and useful idiots ready to go protest or wreak havoc on command nationwide. Meanwhile we have a President and administration working from the top down.
Welcome to Occupy 2.0
LL1885’s Chronicle of Occupy – multiple posts here.