As union membership continues to decline, Big Labor bosses have been desperately trying to force workers into collective bargaining units, recently going as far as organizing a series of high-profile protests against retail companies, focusing primarily on Walmart.
These protests were window dressed on Black Friday as a grass-roots worker movement to improve employee welfare when in fact very few of the “protesters” were Walmart employees. Instead, they were protesters paid by Big Labor to engage in disruptive activities in order to gain media attention and intimidate America’s largest employer so it may cave into union demands.
And now, the labor movement is using this same tactic against another target: fast-food chains.
According to recent media reports, the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is organizing a campaign to protest at fast-food chains across the country, including McDonalds and Wendy’s. On Thursday, the SEIU-backed movement will sponsor demonstrations in roughly 100 cities – if you believe the claims being made. Organized labor contends that these protests have as their goal to pressure fast-food chains to pay their employees a “living wage”, a minimum of $15 per hour. But doubling the wage in this highly competitive and narrow margin business when many of these jobs are entry level, seasonal, short-term or second incomes will simply hasten the companies move to automation and decrease employment. Against this reality, Big Labor’s statements are a red herring; the real goal is unionizing America’s largest companies so union bosses can benefit from increased dues.
Organized labor is trying to unionize these companies to remain relevant. Since the bankruptcy of General Motors and the fall of Detroit, more employees and employers than ever before are resisting Big Labor’s organizing efforts, and union membership continues to shrink, 400,000 in 2012 alone. As a result, the labor movement is in crisis and resorting to highly deceptive, albeit creative, street theater to get new dues paying members. Fast-food chains and large retail stores have the potential of providing the movement with what it needs, as they employ millions throughout the country.
One of the reasons for Big Labor’s cash crunch is that its pension funds that have been so grossly mismanaged many are close to failing. A number of the SEIU's pension funds are so under-funded that they are categorized by the Department of Labor as “critical” or “endangered.” These new and near desperate organizing drives are part and parcel to an effort feeding a self-destructive cycle whereby you add more dues-paying workers into a pool to prop the funds up, but continue the mismanagement and losses.
The truth has been a casualty of these misinformation campaigns, which attempt to portray many employees at these retail or fast-food chains as disgruntled and therefore protesting. But on Black Friday, as mentioned, few of the so-called protesters were actually Walmart employees and media outlets are already reporting that labor bosses are also planning to pay those who protest at the fast-food chains this week.
Big Labor’s effort, if successful, will result in many workers losing their entry-level jobs depriving them of the opportunity to prove themselves and move on to better-paying work and management experience.
The sad truth is that these union-organized protests, whether it is this week’s fast-food chain demonstrations or last week’s Black Friday activities, are about growing the labor membership base to collect more dues, not improving the well-being of workers.