Labor activists using tactics adopted from the Occupy Wall Street movement are crashing restaurants across the nation in an effort to raise wages for workers -- and they're getting taxpayer money to fund the effort.
Using a combination of federal grants and grants from left-leaning organizations, the Restaurant Opportunity Center, or ROC, is technically a charitable nonprofit and not a union. But their pro-worker messages, anti-employer protests and self-proclaimed goal of organizing service sector employees for the purposes of negotiating higher wages make ROC look and sound much like a labor union.
Some see their tactics as a deliberate attempt to skirt the nation's labor laws. Only unions elected by a majority of a workplace can negotiate with employers on workers' behalf, though ROC seems to be doing so in the absence of any election.
But others, including the head of the AFL-CIO, an umbrella group for dozens of labor unions, see ROC and groups like them as the new face of labor organizing in America.
While the Restaurant Opportunity Center is working to increase wages for some workers, they are getting paid, in part, with federal tax dollars.
According to tax filings for ROC United, the parent organization that has launched the smaller chapters operating in many cities, the group got $180,000 in government grants during 2010 and another $60,000 in similar grants during 2011.