Apr 17, 2015 - 10:15am

How Grassroots are the 'Fight for $15' Protests?

Senior Editor, Digital Content


Pro-union signs lay in the street before the start of a "Fight for $15" rally in New York.
Pro-union signs lay in the street before the start of a "Fight for $15" rally in New York. Photo credit: Victor J. Blue/Bloomberg.

In its story on "Fight for $15" minimum wage protests, a WLS-TV reporter in Chicago had this conversation with an SEIU member:

Reporter: "How grassroots are these protests really?"

SEIU member: "They're pretty grassroots."

The truth is these protests are as grassroots as the artificial turf of the Dallas Cowboys’ stadium.

Documents filed with the Department of Labor show the SEIU has been funneling millions of dollars through “worker centers” to support the effort. The money goes to consultants, lawyers, and bussing in protesters.

What’s the payout for SEIU? It hopes for a big boost in union membership and the dues that come with it, Sean Redmond of the Workforce Freedom Initiative explains:

What the SEIU really seems to want, however, is a massive payoff for its efforts.  A quick look at the math helps explain this motivation.  The Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates that roughly 3.6 million people work in the fast food industry, and if the SEIU succeeds in unionizing them, all of those individuals will pay initiation fees and union dues.  If even a fraction of them do so, the SEIU stands to gain tens if not hundreds of millions of dollars in such fees.

So again, how grassroots is this movement?

All the centralized, top-down funding in the expectation of a big return on investment answers that question.

Learn more about how unions use worker centers to rebrand themselves in this Workforce Freedom Initiative report.

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About the Author

About the Author

Sean Hackbarth
Senior Editor, Digital Content

Sean writes about public policies affecting businesses including energy, health care, and regulations. When not battling those making it harder for free enterprise to succeed, he raves about all things Wisconsin (his home state) and religiously follows the Green Bay Packers.