Fight for 15
Fight for 15 is a hard left initiative funded by SEIU to force companies to pay low-skilled workers $15 an hour, and pushes for global unionization. The Fight for 15 movement officially started in October 2012 as the SEIU-supported Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago, which was born out of Action Now. Many socialist activists groups, such as the Democratic Socialists of America and Industrial Workers of the World are involved in the campaign.
Service Employees International Union
An article dated May 29, 2014 titled "Union spent at least $2 million last year on Fight for $15 movement" verbatim:
- "The Service Employees International Union spent at least $2 million last year supporting the effort to organize low-wage fast-food workers and staging strikes in Chicago, according to filings with the Labor Department.
- "It was known that the SEIU has been the main backer of Chicago's Fight for 15 campaign. But the filings disclose the financial and personnel ties between the SEIU and the Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago, itself a union. Members of the Workers Organizing Committee don't pay dues but are asked to attend meetings and participate in events.
- "The Workers Organizing Committee's goal is to unionize low wage workers, but most of them are employed by franchisees, which makes organizing difficult if not "virtually impossible," said Harley Shaiken, a professor specializing in labor issues at the University of California at Berkeley. The reason: the union would have to launch a campaign at each location and gain the support of the majority of workers employed at those locations.
- "Shaiken said SEIU's spending in the campaign seems to be "modest," given the scale of the efforts.
- "SEIU is a large union with considerable resources," Shaiken said. Last year, SEIU reported an income of about $314 million. It has nearly 2 million dues paying members.
- "Susan Schurman, dean of Rutgers University's School of Management and Labor Relations, said SEIU is trying to change the perception of unions in the United States from organizations that bargain over benefits and wages to groups workers join voluntarily to gain from strength in numbers.
- "'SEIU one of the most forward thinking unions in the U.S.," Schurman said. "This is a brilliant strategy."
- "Most of the groups were formed in 2012 and have since held one-day protests targeting retailers and other fast-food operators, including McDonald's.
- "Last week, hundreds of McDonald's workers and community activists staged a protest near the fast-food chain's headquarters in Oak Brook, seeking a wage increase to at least $15 per hour for employees. In Illinois, wages for fast food workers hover around $8.25 per hour, the state's minimum wage.
- "The total costs of the Fight for 15 campaign nationally could be significantly higher because SEIU has also channeled funds through community organizations that have been key to reaching workers.
- "The president of the group is EJ Serrano, who last year was listed as a vice president and organizing director SEIU Healthcare at a salary of about $72,000. Keith Kelleher, president of SEIU Healthcare, has said he was an "informal adviser" for the Fight for 15 campaign in its early stages. Madeline Talbott, Kelleher's wife, was executive director of Action Now until her retirement in 2012.
- "The Workers Organizing Committee of Chicago reported it spent about half of its income on salaries of organizers and field managers. It listed 30 employees who were paid between $10,000 and nearly $40,000 in 2013. It also spent nearly $38,000 in legal fees and about $6,000 in Jimmy John's.
- "This is the work of our union," said James Muhammad, a SEIU Healthcare spokesman. "We are trying to improve wages and benefits for all working people."