Apr 12, 2016 - 9:45am

“Fight for $15” Protests Haven’t Resulted in New Union Members


Senior Vice President, Employment Policy Division

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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.

This Thursday, “Fight for $15,” a front for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), will target numerous McDonald’s locations with yet another round of protests calling for a $15-an-hour minimum wage and a union.  It’s ironic to see SEIU-sponsored activists calling for $15-an-hour and organizing rights when the SEIU fails to negotiate that wage in some of its own contracts. Perhaps that’s why it has yet to recruit any new members from the protests.

Consider that:

  • SEIU’s Fight for $15 “voter agenda” states that “everyone who works needs $15 an hour,” yet SEIU negotiates contracts for far less than that amount.  For example:
    • SEIU Local 503 and Avamere Collective Bargaining Agreement (effective from October 1, 2013 through Sept. 30, 2017).  Wage scales as low as $9.10 per hour.
    • SEIU Local 775 and Prestige Care Center (effective from Oct. 1, 2014 to August 31, 2016). Wage scales as low as $9.75 per hour.
    • SEIU Local 1199 Greater New York Health Care Facilities Association Contract (accessed Feb. 2016).  Wages as low as $9.10 per hour.
  • SEIU has spent at least $50 million on fast food protests, but has yet to file a single election petition. (Source: U.S. Department of Labor Form LM-2 Filings)
  • Prior to each round of these “strikes,” the SEIU has claimed an ever larger number of cities participating.  Yet no more than a handful of protestors appear in most of the targeted locations, and few, if any, workers actually walk out on strike.
  • A report featured on the Fight for $15 website admits that a dramatic increase in the minimum wage would have negative impacts on restaurants.  It states:  “Much larger increases, like the $15 minimum wage recently enacted in Los Angeles, San Francisco, and Seattle and contemplated elsewhere (including New York), may have more substantial negative effects on the [restaurant] industry.” (Pages 12-13)
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About the Author

About the Author

Glenn Spencer Headshot
Senior Vice President, Employment Policy Division

Glenn Spencer is senior vice president of the Employment Policy division at the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.