Mar 11, 2016 - 12:00pm

Miami “Strikes” Highlight Fight for $15’s Foibles


Senior Vice President, Employment Policy Division

As Republican candidates for president debated in Miami on March 10, Fight for $15 protestors once again demonstrated outside the debate hall, hoping to bring attention to the SEIU’s campaign to unionize fast food restaurants.  Supposedly, participants were fast food workers who had gone on “strike” to protest for higher wages, but, as usual, protest leaders were unable, or unwilling, to state if any actual workers had done so.  As reported in Daily Labor Report, the protest spokeswoman (from the high-power public relations firm Berlin Rosen) “declined to provide an estimate of how many workers participated in the strike.”

This is par for the course for Fight for $15, which is funded by the SEIU to the tune of at least $30 million and yet is unable to bring more than a handful of actual workers, as opposed to union officials and paid protestors, to its demonstrations.

Adding to the irony of the latest protest is a recent posting on Fight for $15’s web site that boldly proclaims: “The biggest argument against $15 just got destroyed…again.”  It then touts a study of the restaurant industry, which claims that relatively small increases in the minimum wage don’t appear to harm businesses.  The merits of that argument have been, and will continue to be, debated by economists, but what the report makes emphatically clear is that a reckless increase like $15 is a very different story.  The report 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 industry.”

With research like that, it’s little surprise few workers have flocked to Fight for $15’s banner.  But even if they can’t generate actual strikes, the SEIU and its front group still retain a talent for generating headlines.     

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Senior Vice President, Employment Policy Division

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