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Occupy DC gets office space with money from SEIU

Occupy_DC.jpg

File: 2012: The now-shuttered Occupy DC encampment at McPherson Square, just blocks from the White House in Washington. (AP)

Occupy DC has gotten an upgrade from the run-down tent village where they once lived, now that one of the country’s most powerful labor unions is paying for office digs in downtown Washington.

The Service Employees International Union, one of President Obama’s biggest supporters, is paying the protest group’s $4,000-a-month rent at the Institute for Policy Studies, institute spokeswoman Lacy MacAuley told Fox News on Wednesday.

She said SEIU recently extended the offer, so Occupy organizers went shopping for office space and decided on a “separate, side suite” at the institute’s headquarters.

An Occupy spokeswoman confirmed the group is working from the space. The group settled in Monday, as first reported by The Washington Examiner.

At least one union member is not pleased with the arrangement. 

SEIU member Kandy Gonzalez said Wednesday that she and other members were upset with the union spending dues on non-union concerns.

"We're not happy," she said on Fox News. "When you pay dues, you think you're paying for a better work environment."

SEUI’s political action committee reported $70.4 billion in expenditures for the 2008 Obama campaign, according to the Center for Responsive Politics.  

And the union, which has 2.1 million members and is the fastest-growing union in North America, endorsed Obama’s re-election campaign back in November 2011.

SEIU will reportedly pay the rent for six months so Occupy protesters can plan demonstrations, workshops and continue to advocate for “the 99 percent (of Americans)  to have a say in returning the country to a just political and economic system.”

 The union did not return a call to verify it is paying the rent.

Occupy DC was essentially evicted in February from McPherson Square, just blocks from the White House, for continuing to camp overnight on federal land. District officials had tried for months to evict the protestors, who closed their kitchen after officials found an “explosion” of rats inside their camp.

Occupy has had a enduring but uneven relationship with SEIU, accepting financial support shortly after the so-called Occupy Wall Street movement started last fall but occasionally complaining that the union was too pro-Obama and was attempting to hijack some events for its own cause.

The setup at the Institute for Policy Studies “looks nothing like an SEIU office,” MacAuley said.

Occupy protestor John Zangas told the Examiner: "We've got full control of how we allocate space, time, resources, access. Nobody's telling us what to do. We still have our own brand name. We continue with unbridled decision making."

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