According to a post at Daily Kos, the first episode of Spurlock's 30 Days was cosponsored by ACORN, the grassroots group agitating for a "living wage" in cities across the country. In the cities where they've been succesful, minimum wage has been hiked to $10 or more per hour.
If you'll remember, the premise of the show was that Spurlock and his girlfriend attempted to live on minimum wage for, again, thirty days. The purpose I guess was to document the struggles all the people who live on minimum wage endure to make ends meet. I'll get to critiques of this particular episode in subsequent posts.
For the moment, I'd like to look at ACORN's cosponsorship of that episode.
Longtime readers of my blog likely know where I'm going with this: ACORN is a blatantly hypocritical activist group. For years, ACORN has tried like hell to avoid paying its own members the minimum wage required by law! This, as those same employees were working to raise minimum wages for everyone else.
In fact, ACORN actually went to court to fight for its right to pay wages below the legal minimum. What's more, ACORN made the exact same arguments its opponents make when arguing aginst higher minimum wages -- namely, that paying higher wages would mean the company would have to make do with fewer employees.
In a suit ACORN filed to exempt itself from California's minimum wage laws, the organization wrote in its brief:
"As acknowledged both by the trial court and California, the more that ACORN must pay each individual outreach worker--either because of minimum wage or overtime requirements--the fewer outreach workers it will be able to hire."Straight from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce talking points! ACORN also has a history of union-busting, ducking overtime requirements, cutting late paychecks, and general anti-labor practices. In 2003, the National Labor Relations Board made the following findings about the organization:
• ACORN pays its field members $18,000 per year.Check here for more damning evidence against ACORN (Disclosure: I'll note that the source of the previous link is the Employment Policies Institute, an organization funded by the restuarant industry. But the document is merely a data culling exercise. It's all public record).
• Field members typically work 54+ hours per week.
• Field members are rarely given weekends off.
• Field members are expected to canvas neighborhoods alone, sometimes at night.
• ACORN is frequently tardy with member paychecks.
What's funny is that Spurlock dismissed the "a higher minimum wage means fewer jobs" argument out of hand on the show. Yet it's an argument his activist allies and co-sponsors actually embraced when someone tried to make them ingest a bit of their own medicine.
If he's really serious about forcing employers to pay better wages, Spurlock might start with the allegedly pro-labor activist group that helped pay for his show.