In These Times has published the first investigative report of the nationwide fast-food worker organizing campaign known as Fight for 15. Since late 2012 fast-food workers have staged day-long strikes in cities across the country four times, with a fifth walkout planned for December 2013. Reporter Arun Gupta examines the roots of the campaign, uncovers the central role played by the Service Employees International Union, and reveals the union’s detailed plan for trying to pressure the fast-food giants to raise wages and allow workers to form unions.
Even more importantly, says Gupta, “Workers and organizers involved in the campaign are asking if Fight for 15 is about organizing workers into a long-term movement or a ‘march on the media.’ More than 20 workers and organizers who talked to In These Times say they support the organizing drive, but are troubled by what they say is a lack of respect for workers, resistance to worker control, a rubberstamp decision-making process, and the overall direction of the campaign. Time and again they described how the media focus undermines the actual organizing in fast-food shops and discourages worker involvement.”
Steven Greenhouse of the New York Times calls the In These Times report a “Good inside, in-depth look at the Fast Food-Fight for Fifteen Movement.”
TRISH KAHLE, trish.kahle at gmail.com
Kahle (pronounced Kaj-luh) is a member of the Working Organizing Committee of Chicago and a health-food store employee. She recently wrote the piece “Beyond Fast Food Strikes” and said today: “Low-wage workers organizing in the Fight for 15 need to come to grips with the past failures of SEIU, but people who dismiss this movement are discounting the transformative effect it has had on workers, and the potential of workers to take this campaign further than anyone could have imagined. Organized labor has been in the tank for years, and those who write off this campaign are only helping to ensure it will be that much harder to revive in the future.”