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Fight for $15 is the group behind the new unorthodox union.

California fast-food workers form first-of-its-kind union

The California Fast Food Workers Union is affiliated with the Service Employees International Union, known for its famous ‘Fight for $15’ labor movement

Quick-service employees have banded together in California to form the California Fast Food Workers Union, a nontraditional union that’s the first of its kind in the country and backed by the Service Employees International Union.

The SEIU is the organization behind the powerful Fight for $15 labor movement, which was formed in 2012 with the objective of raising the national minimum wage. The Fight for $15 group runs the website and social media pages for the newly formed organization, which will be launched as a minority union, rather than a traditional union.

Minority unions are not formally recognized by the National Labor Relations Board, and instead of being formed by a majority vote in a workplace, minority union members separately and voluntarily join and pay dues in exchange for union support and advocacy.

The California Fast Food Workers Union was created, according to its social media pages, to fight for social and economic justice in the industry. It was created in the wake of new state legislation AB 1228, signed into law by Gov. Gavin Newsom last September as a milder replacement for the controversial FAST Act, and will raise the minimum wage to $20 an hour starting April 1, and create a fast-food council with limited powers of authority to pass future wage changes. The council, which will begin meeting March 15, will include governor-appointed fast-food workers and restaurant industry representatives.

“We really hope this can be a model for workers not just in the state of California and not just in fast food, but throughout the country to have a voice to advocate for wages and standards,” Joseph Bryant, executive vice president of Service Employees International Union, told The Washington Post.

But not all organizations within the business community are in support of the new unorthodox union. Critics maintain that the organization does not have the federal recognition of a traditional union, and is more of a distraction than a force for change within the industry:  

"The SEIU spent more than a decade and over $100 million investing in its Fight for $15 and union campaign; the union has little to show for it by way of actual unionized employees,” Michael Saltsman, executive director of fiscally conservative research organization, the Employment Policies Institute, said in a statement. “This new fake union is an obvious attempt to save face and keep advancing harmful policies, including the forthcoming $20 minimum wage, that will hurt restaurant guests and employees."

Contact Joanna at [email protected]

TAGS: Workforce
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