Only a couple of years ago, the “Fight for 15” was a nascent idea. A slogan for workers to grasp onto in the midst of a national discussion around inequality tracing its roots to the Great Recession.
Now, $15 minimum wage laws have been enacted in places like New York City, Seattle and California, in addition to making its way into this year’s presidential campaign. And having stood down a challenge from the United Healthcare Workers’ Dave Regan, the SEIU’s president is expected to be re-elected to continue building off her organization’s minimum wage momentum.
In an interview this weekend with the Detroit Free Press, Henry shared some of what she hopes to accomplish in the near future by channeling what she calls the most unified American labor movement in the last 35 years.
Having made employees from the restaurant industry the face of the minimum wage struggle, the SEIU’s president now plans to make the union “more accessible to the 18 million workers who are now on a path to $15 (per hour).”
If her statement sounds like code for trying to unionize fast food workers, that’s because it is. Henry continued her statements to the Detroit newspaper by sharing her plan to organize a low-wage worker summit this summer and to get fast food companies to the bargaining table.
“And we have to go beyond raising wages,” Henry told the Detroit Free Press.
“And for us, that means the next step is making the demand for the union. We want McDonald’s, Wendy’s and Burger King to come to a national bargaining table and recognize the fast food workers’ movement and bargain with them.”
As the traditional mainstay of union membership (manufacturing) continues to decline, it should come as no surprise the SEIU is looking towards other industries to generate growth – and in all likelihood, towards some sectors of the restaurant industry.