Business

Who’s Fighting For $15 An Hour: Workers Or Big Labor?

A nationwide minimum wage protest planned for Wednesday is being called out by critics who claim the self-proclaimed grassroots movement is actually just a paid stunt by big labor.

“This is an orchestrated effort,” Ryan Williams, media advisor for Worker Center Watch, said during a press call Monday. “The union has invested upwards of $20 million.”

According to the 2014 LM-2 annual report, which was released by the Department of Labor earlier in the month, the Service Employees International Union spent millions on the Fight for 15 protests by contributing to the worker centers behind it. The upcoming nationwide protests are the latest in a series that goes back to 2012.

Additionally, as sources for The Daily Caller News Foundation point out, the SEIU has spent $637,243 in strike benefits to some groups involved despite them not reporting any members. The concept refers to when a union pay compensation and benefits to striking workers adding to earlier speculation that some of the protestors are being paid to be there as opposed to actually being industry workers demanding a higher wage.

East Bay Organizing Committee, Fast Food Workers Committee and the Los Angeles Workers Organizations Committee are just some of the few groups out of the eight reported to have received strike benefits without reporting any members.

Diana Furchtgott-Roth, a senior fellow at the Manhattan Institute, noted during the press call that PR firms like Berlin Rosen were paid not just to coordinate media for the protests but to also provide people for the crowds. According to the LM-2 forms, the SEIU spent $1.3 million on the firm for its services.

“This is not something that is a grassroots effort,” Furchtgott-Roth declared. “The SEIU has its own agenda.”

“The vast majority of these protestors are not fast food workers,” Furchtgott-Roth noted. She points to email and text alerts as just one of the many ways the SEIU is able to get people out to the protests, even if they are not industry workers.

“Many of these demonstrators are bused in, many are paid,” Williams added.

Throughout the fast-food protests the SEIU has been criticized by some for using the Fight for 15 protests as a way to bypass labor laws to more easily unionize fast food workers. Additionally, according to a report from Union Facts, a minimum wage increase would benefit the SEIU directly while hurting non-unionized SEIU competitors.

“Under current law, unions are not allowed to engage in these activities,” Furchtgott-Roth continued. “The worker centers circumvent all of this.”

“These organizing committees have been operating as middle me,” Williams noted. “The key here is deception, to hide how the money flows.”

Despite all this, Fight for 15 has claimed to be a workers initiative. Those behind the group have noted they aren’t just fighting for fast food workers, they are fast food workers.

“As low wage workers we know what it’s like to struggle to get by,” a statement on its website proclaimed. “Because our pay is too low, we struggle to pay our bills and put food on the table. McDonald’s answer? Go on food stamps. We’re robbed on the job by our employers looking to cut corners. Employers that are multi-billion dollar corporations. Even though we work hard, we’re forced to live in poverty.”

The SEIU, Fight for 15 and Berlin Rosen did not respond to requests for comment from TheDCNF.

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