A Big Labor backed coalition is calling for a nationwide strike among fast-food workers on August 29. The walkout is part of a larger campaign, which is prominently funded by the Service Employees International Union and United Food and Commercial Workers union, to raise the minimum wage to $15 per hour and to organize fast-food workers.
At its core, the campaign is disingenuous. Workers at McDonald’s, Burger King, KFC, and nearly any other worker at a protested employer can unionize. So far, the majority of workers have just not shown interest in having union representation.
For one, it is difficult (if not impossible) to organize the service industry is because of the high level of employee turnover. The National Restaurant Association estimates that “quick-service restaurants” have 75 percent employee turnover rates. Therefore, the fact of the matter is unions can organize the service industry it is just harder than they would like it to be.
And that is one reason why the SEIU and UFCW have initiated the smear campaign against fast-food restaurants in hopes of pressuring employers into signing “neutrality agreements,” or an agreement that requires the company to say nothing against the union’s organizing campaign. But it further specifies that the company will support the union’s request to deny workers access to a secret ballot election and other concessions from the employer that jeopardize a free and fair election.
Worse, the advice unions are giving fast-food employees could get them fired. When workers go on strikes for economic reasons, the employer may fire and replace the striking workers.
In any strike, an employer has the right to replace (not fire) strikers. However, generally speaking there are two types of strikes: 1) Unfair Labor Practice Strikes, and 2) Economic Strikes.
In an unfair labor strike, while strikers can be replaced, they must be reinstated at the end of the strike.
However, due to a 1938 U.S. Supreme Court ruling, in an economic strike, strikers may be permanently replaced and only offered reinstatement when an opening occurs.
Yet, all of the protests, strikes and union funds to organize fast-food workers are unnecessary if a living wage is really all that is sought by unions. Because if union officials had these workers best interest at heart then the quickest way to a “living wage” is through welfare not work.
According to a recent Cato Institute study, “The Work Versus Welfare Trade-Off: 2013,” 35 states welfare pays out more than a minimum wage job. Further, in 13 states welfare pays the hourly equivalent of more than $15 per hour. As well, many of the protests are taking place in states with welfare paying over $15 per hour including Washington D.C. ($24.43), New York ($21.01) and California ($17.87).