Policy: Labor

Rift separates national, New York branches of pro-minimum wage group ROC

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Beltway Confidential,Opinion,Sean Higgins,Labor unions,Labor,New York,Minimum Wage,Nonprofits,Restaurant Opportunities Center

In a statement posted Thursday, the Restaurant Opportunities Center of New York alleged that the national version of the organization, the Restaurant Opportunities Center United, had severed ties with it after the two had a bitter falling-out.

Both are union-affiliated nonprofit activist groups involved in the effort to raise the minimum wage, among other economic issues.

The New York group, which is affiliated with but legally separate from the national group, made the announcement in a statement addressed to "Members and Supporters of ROC-NY."

The two groups had been discussing a merger but talks apparently fell apart: "ROC-United demanded that we sign an agreement that would have required us to violate NY State laws, and when we declined to sign, ROC-United shut down communications and severed ties with us." The New York group added that it was "saddened by this outcome."

It is not clear what state law violation the New York group is alleging. At press time, neither group had responded to a request for comment by the Washington Examiner.

ROC-NY was founded in 2001. ROC United was established in 2008 in the hopes of creating a national network of affiliated groups.

The national group has a history of cutting corners legally. From 2009 to 2011, ROC-United spent just under $100,000 on lobbying expenses that it failed to disclose to the IRS, public tax documents show.

The Franklin Center for Government and Public Integrity's Watchdog.org reported in February that the national organization had used the New York group's tax-exempt status to obtain a $275,000 Labor Department grant -- despite the fact that they are legally distinct entities. The national group did not receive nonprofit status until 2010.

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