Topics: Labor Unions

Fast food strikes being coordinated by Service Employees International Union

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Beltway Confidential,Food and Drink,Sean Higgins,Labor unions,Labor,SEIU

A wave of strikes have been hitting various fast food outlets across the country in recent months. While Big Labor allies have sought to portray them as spontaneous uprisings, the incidents are actually part of a coordinated strategy by union leaders.

The liberal Labor Notes magazine reports: "The fast food strikes seemed to come from nowhere when the first one jumped off in New York last November, but they are part of a coordinated effort by SEIU, which has been providing funds as part its two-year-old project 'Fight for a Fair Economy.'" (Emphasis added)

SEIU is managing the effort nationally by financially backing groups in 10 cities, as well as training labor organizers for them. The New York effort, for example, is being done through New York Communities for Change. NYCC's members were originally affiliated with the city's branch of the now-defunct ACORN, the liberal activist group that imploded in a wave of scandals in 2010. The new group has 40 organizers targeting fast food workers.

How are they finding the workers? The contact information is taken from petitions the NYCC circulated during their campaigns for affordable housing and against the New York police's "stop and frisk" policy.

This would seem to be an uphll battle for the unions. The fast food industry has notoriously high worker turnover, a serious problem when trying to organize a workplace. But the article indicates that SEIU's real agenda here is to use the workers to agitate for an increase in the minimum wage, a perennial issue for Big Labor. Hikes in the minimum wage -- currently set by the federal government at $7.25 an hour — create pressure to increase wages across all industries. SEIU has told the fast food strikers to demand $15 an hour.

The magazine quotes a former AFL-CIO official saying: "If the objective is really to raise the minimum wage [legislatively], it's important that workers know that that's what they're fighting for."

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