November 10, 2015
By Neal Tepel, LaborPress Publisher
As protests are planned across the country today, November 10th, the historic “Fight for $15” movement continues to spread to industries and cities throughout the United States of America. Low-wage workers in this great country are seeking the American Dream through higher pay and the right to join a union.
What started at a handful of fast-food restaurants has evolved to one of the most significant protest movements in the history of this country. Every sector is now affected – childcare , healthcare, airports, retail stores, university settings and even small businesses. Low-wage workers in every industry have joined this movement. In November 2012, about 100 workers in New York City fast-food restaurants walked off the job. This action was supported by SEIU, UFCW AFSCME and other unions. In 2013 protests and strikes continued. By 2014, it grew beyond fast-food stores and included workers from many other industries.
The movement had coalesced into a fight for a $15 minimum wage by 2015. On April 15, 2015, thousands of low-wage workers across the country walked out of their jobs. The April 15th day of protests had the largest number of demonstrations in our nation’s history.In August 2015, with the "fight for 15" now on the front page of every newspaper across the country, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a landmark decision having significant union organizing implications. In a joint-employer ruling regarding the case of Browning-Ferris Industries, the Labor Board issued a broad new standard for determining whether two businesses are “joint employers” for purposes of collective bargaining and union organizing.
The implications of this ruling are now being tested by unions but clearly will be a game changer. If employees at a fast-food restaurant owned and run by a franchisee were successful in organizing the shop, the union could argue under this decision that they have the right to bargain with the corporate parent restaurant and not just the franchisee. Should this be supported by the NLRB, organizing could take place not store by store but company by company or with a group of stores under an individual owner rather than unit by unit.
Tags: SEIU, UFCW, AFSCME, AFLCIO, NYC Unions