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PIRG Sued For Union-Busting, Underpaying Activists, Douchebaggery

As improbable as it may sound, the PIRG system is actually slimier and more corrupt than previously believed. From the Daily Beast:

The nation’s largest fundraiser for progressive causes issued checks to thousands of former workers in the last several weeks after settling a $2.15 million class-action suit alleging it subjected workers to grueling hours without overtime pay.

The nonprofit Fund for Public Interest Inc. was set up in 1982 as the fundraising arm of the network of Public Interest Research Groups, which was founded by Ralph Nader. It deploys legions of door-to-door and street canvassers—and once counted a young Barack Obama as one of its New York City organizers—to solicit contributions for the Human Rights Campaign, the Sierra Club, Environment America, and other groups that together spend millions of dollars each year lobbying Congress.


Managers pushed employees to work long hours by repeatedly stressing that they were taking part in a campaign to better the world, not a traditional job. Federal and state labor laws do not recognize the distinction. Some said their experiences led them to give up on activism altogether, which troubled those behind the lawsuit. “I was getting tired of seeing people leave the movement,” Miller said.

In the summer of 2005, the activists tried to unionize their Los Angeles office. The canvassers voted to organize with the Teamsters, Miller said.

“Management basically started changing office policies to try to systematically fire all union employees, while stalling the contract,” he added. Eventually, Rep. Hilda Solis (D-Calif.), now Labor secretary, wrote the Fund pressing it to negotiate with workers, to no avail.

Then suddenly, Miller said, “they changed the locks on the doors and they were gone. We were shut down overnight.”

In a separate case in 2006, the office of the Labor Commissioner of the State of California determined that the Fund had denied rest breaks to a worker, awarding a cash payment. The Fund subsequently changed its policies to provide overtime pay. In 2009, it agreed to settle the class-action suit.

But remember: It’s all about “student voice” and “empowering people.” These criticisms are just a vast, right-wing conspiracy to silence progressive voices on campus. Just keep telling yourself that. Seriously, though, this is the group that we so desperately need on campus? The group that is so vital to student activism? Remember this when the OSPIRG neophytes come crawling back to the ASUO next year, begging to be reinstated as a student group.

Hat tip to Reason.

  1. Orev says:

    Oh no, you little pansy Jesse Hough, did your sediment of apathy crush your vocal cords? Grow up and get a life, you little communist piece of ___. I mocked you before, during and after the PIG died, and I will continue to mock your naive optimism now.

  2. nike urbanism duk says:

    Sounds like slave labor. If OSPIGG ever comes back from the grave the Survival Center members should join the WRC.

  3. My Larynx is Gone!! says:

    Without OSPIRG around who will be in charge of making the survival center smell so bad!?!?!?

  4. JMB says:

    One of my favorite quotes from the article (in an eyeroll-inducing sort of way) is

    “Managers pushed employees to work long hours by repeatedly stressing that they were taking part in a campaign to better the world, not a traditional job.”

    because it’s exactly the same thing we see here (“Give us money even though we aren’t really a student group, because we are trying to change the world!”). Apparently this sort of self-righteous attitude is at the very core of the PIRG system.

  5. Orev says:

    “Hey, mannnnnn, sign my petition to save the whales. Mannnnn, you wanna save the whales? Come on, mannnnnn, be a citizen of the world, mannnnnn…”

    Frickin’ hippies, if I wanted to save the damn whales, I’d be way past signing your little clip board. Go take a shower and get a haircut.

  6. Miles Rost says:

    Investigations are pending. Minnesota, Oregon, and Kansas are three states that have open investigations of racketeering and money laundering.

    Though, if I had my way, I’d include intimidation (by those assholes with the clipboards) and extortion (again, the assholes with the clipboards).

  7. JMB says:

    Ian: don’t hold your breath expecting transparency from the PIRG racket. I’m still amazed they’ve managed to avoid indictment on RICO charges (to the best of my knowledge).

  8. Ian Random says:

    I wonder if they finally have a published budget, my brother was investigating them years ago to make sure money was going where it should and got nowhere.

  9. Miles Rost says:

    Orev: actually, you had it right the first time…

  10. Vincent says:

    Some of us are a little too classy for that, Bladine.

  11. Ossie says:

    Really, is no one going to make an ASSPIG joke?

  12. Orev says:

    Oooh, that was an editing faux paux…can you see Russia? There is it…

  13. Orev says:

    And, Steve-o, can you see Alaska from your front porch? Or are you not enough of a raging liberal? Move to Canada or France, you pansy.

  14. nike urbanism duk says:

    Steve, OSPIRG/OSPIGG is a terrorist organization.

  15. Vincent says:

    Dear Steve:

    Get over yourself.



  16. Miles Rost says:

    Two words to describe OSPIRG:

    Money. Laundering.

  17. C.T. Behemoth says:

    Farce Trek II: The Wrath of conn

    Star Date 19743, I’ve just exited an ancient web site where I made a post, oblivious to any prior arguments made on the subject, in the hopes that some sort of contact can be made.

    Jerk, out.

  18. steve conn says:

    I helped found Alaska PIRG in 19743 and ran it for ten years many years later. It took on the oil companies and fought for consumer rights. As you steal money from the federal treasury with only our dear Sarah to lead you to the promised land, you have the nerve to bash an outfit which has taken on Big Money and won, again and again and again. It will be around when you are gone and forgotten.

  19. Orev says:

    I may have graduated, but it still curdles my blood to think that the PIG might come back. Get lives, get haircuts…get jobs, people!

  20. JMB says:

    Union busting, how incredibly progressive and social justice-y of them! I hope that if the OSPIGG tries to get its snout into the ASUO trough during the next feeding session, someone gets up and reads this story out loud in its entirety.

  21. Johnny says:

    With the large lobbying groups lobbying legislators as much as they are, and with Obama in office, OSPIRG literally serves no reasonable purpose on our campus.

  22. Vincent says:

    The KKKapitalist greed machine made them do it.


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