Tag Archives for " Fight for $15 "

Fight for $15: Who Wins in the Long Run?

  • April 14, 2016

Does big union win with ‘Fight for $15’?dollar-signs-black

Good Op Ed piece from the Chamber of Commerce this morning with some points of irony mixed with some good facts.

California has enacted a statewide $15 hourly minimum wage that begins to phase in next year, before taking full effect in 2022. The economic merits of such an increase are certainly in question, and according to the New York Times, even liberal economists worry about “a potential loss of jobs in a number of cities.” Indeed, even Gov. Jerry Brown went as far as to say at the signing ceremony that the fundamental economics of a minimum wage “may not make sense.” Nonetheless, the group claiming credit for the increase, the so-called Fight for $15 movement, is declaring victory, and the wage increase will surely be a major talking point in Fight for $15’s next round of street theater demonstrations, set for today.

There have been several rounds of these demonstrations over the past few years, particularly in cities like Los Angeles and Oakland. While they have generated a fair amount of media attention, they have been far less successful at producing actual striking workers, who are allegedly the backbone of the movement.

Press releases trumpet the hundreds of cities that will see massive Fight for $15 protests, but outside of a few major cities, no more than a handful of demonstrators show up, and some targeted locations see no demonstrations at all. The reason for that is simple: Rather than being a genuine grass-roots uprising, the Fight for $15 movement is actually a front for the Service Employees International Union, which is engaged in a campaign to unionize the fast-food industry.

Which leads to the question: is California’s wage increase really a win for the SEIU?

From a pure political perspective, one might say yes. It demonstrates that unions have a lot of clout in Sacramento, which isn’t exactly news. But when one remembers the slogan SEIU’s demonstrators chant at their protests: “$15 and a union,” the answer becomes less clear. In fact, in the three years since SEIU began protesting outside fast food restaurants, not a single union representation petition has been filed at any of them.

That matters, because these protests – indeed, the whole Fight for $15 movement – isn’t free. It’s costing the SEIU a lot of cash. According to financial reports filed with the Department of Labor, the SEIU has spent approximately $55 million of its members’ dues money on Fight for $15. Since it started spending, SEIU’s membership has actually gone down, not up.

SEIU’s dues payers may be getting antsy about spending so much money on a campaign that has done nothing to increase the organization’s bottom line. According to a report in Bloomberg, SEIU veterans worry about “the continued outlay for minimum-wage protests on behalf of non-union workers in light of the decline in dues-paying memberships.”

Even a former SEIU president has said that the union “can’t just keep transferring revenue it makes from bargaining contracts to pay for its social justice work.” After all, one must remember that unions are a business, funded by dues. Throwing more than $50 million out the door without a return on investment in terms of new members is clearly not a sustainable business practice.

There’s more than a bit of irony in the SEIU pushing for a $15 minimum wage. Because the union actually agrees to contracts that pay workers far less than that. Indeed, a quick search online for SEIU bargaining agreements turns up many that pay as low as $9.75 cents an hour. Yet, this is described as a “poverty wage” in SEIU’s political manifesto.

The SEIU would undoubtedly claim that they negotiated the best wage they could in a particular industry or region, and that the market simply wouldn’t bear more than that for certain jobs. Of course, that wouldn’t make for a very catchy slogan. But California’s Legislature might have better served the state if they had noted that point.

Glenn Spencer is vice president of the Workforce Freedom Initiative at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce. To learn more, visitwww.workforcefreedom.com.

Fast Food Strikes Back On November 10 Coupled With Political Protests To Raise Wages

  • November 5, 2015


Fast Food Strikes Back On November 10 Coupled With Political Protests To Raise Wages

It’s November and a lot of important stuff is happening during the month. Daylight Savings Time ended. Election Day 2015 just past, and the 2016 Presidential campaigns will be kicking into high gear with just about one year left to go.  For many of us, thoughts will turn to Thanksgiving turkey, football. family gatherings, and Christmas shopping,  but there is still a lot of labor relations activity that you might want to keep on your radar.

According to a report this morning in USA Today:

Fast-food workers, already a potent political force, are planning their largest nationwide strike yet next week and this time will leverage their crusade for a $15-an-hour wage in a bid to sway the 2016 presidential election.

The group representing the workers, Fight for $15, plans on Tuesday to stage protests at restaurants in 270 cities, the most since it began organizing the demonstrations three years ago.

Striking fast-food and other low-wage workers will then gather at local city halls, kicking off a campaign to prod their colleagues to vote next November for local, state and national candidates who support the $15 pay floor. Labor and other groups will simultaneously rally in about 200 other cities, and the daylong blitz will culminate with a protest by several thousand workers at the Republican presidential debate in Milwaukee.

“We’re putting politicians on notice that we’re going to hold them accountable,” says Kendall Fells, the organizing director of Fight for $15, a group funded by the Service Employees International Union.

In last week’s CUE newsletter, we mentioned the Fight for $15 National Day of Action which will take place next Tuesday November 10th.  Early indications are that there will be protests and strike actions aimed at employers in multiple industries including health care, retail, hospitality, airport workers, home/child caregivers and fast food workers in cities across the United States. One business group which monitors these actions tells me that they have identified more than one hundred individual events already, and expect many more than that. Unlike past protests which were aimed primarily at fast food restaurants, many of these events are scheduled to start or end at government buildings and city halls, and could spread to sites in any service sector.  CUE members with employees in service sector jobs would be well advised to have a general response plan in place with your on-site management teams, especially in larger urban centers and those states viewed as election battlegrounds such as Pennsylvania, Ohio and Florida.