One group that has an allegedly bad track record when it comes to treating its workers fairly is the Public Interest Research Groups, according to Daily Beast blogger Luke Rosiak.
In his piece, The Liberal Sweatshop, Rosiak states that the nonprofit Fund for Public Interest Inc. was set up in 1982 by former presidential candidate Ralph Nader as the fundraising arm of the network of Public Interest Research Groups. In fact, according to Rosiak, 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."
However, there is a darker side to this do-gooder organization that Rosiak exposes.
According to one of its former employees, Christian Miller:
"They're the Wal-Mart of nonprofits in every way imaginable. They basically look at the next generation of social change as the next source of cheap labor."
What's more, the PIRG is being accused of being a pretty anti-union organization:
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."
And complying with other labor laws? Apparently, the PIRG doesn't like to do that either.
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.
On their website, the PIRGs slogan is "Standing Up to Powerful Interests." To us, however, it sounds as though the more appropriate slogan should be: Do as we say, not as we do.