The lead organizer for the “Fight for $15” movement isn’t an underpaid fast food worker, but rather a well-paid labor union activist.
“No I’m not,” Kendall Fells said when asked by researchers with conservative nonprofit America Rising Squared if he was paid to attend the “March on McDonald’s” he organized this week in Chicago. As it turns out, though, Fells is paid for his activist activities — and he gets paid a lot.
Fells was paid more than $146,000 in 2016 by the left-wing Service Employees International Union (SEIU), according to documents SEIU filed with the Department of Labor. Fells is listed as SEIU’s “deputy organizing director.” He is currently “on loan” to the “Fight for $15” campaign from SEIU, Fox Business reported on Wednesday.
Fells was hesitant to answer questions about the funding for the event and seemed uncomfortable providing details about himself. When the camera captured a shot of Fells’ face he put a hand up and said, “Please don’t record me.”
“The question you should be asking is like how much do these corporations make and how much do these people make and why are they out here protesting,” Fells said, while holding a coffee from Starbucks, which does not pay its workers $15 an hour.
Fells originally described himself as a “supporter” of the protesters, who he said are mostly fast-food workers.
“My official job is to support these people,” Fells said, gesturing towards the protesters, many of whom were bussed into the event.
When asked who paid for the buses, Fells said that they have a “coalition” of “100+ groups in every city.”
“They’re gonna do anything to help these workers get up and get out here,” he said. “Do you have a better idea how to get this many people out here?”
“You do know buses aren’t that expensive, right?” he added later.
After initially declining to identify himself, Fells finally gave in, saying he is the “national organizer director with the ‘Fight for 15,’ I helped start it in New York City. My name is Kendall Fells.”
Fells previously admitted at a May 2014 event that activists chose $15 as their preferred minimum wage not because of solid economic theories behind it but because it “made sense.”
“I will say that it was a pretty scientific process: $10 was too low and $20 was too high so we landed at 15,” Fells said with a laugh. He later divulged some of the tactics the activists use to pressure businesses who try to fire employees.
“McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Burger King — these places specialize in selling burgers. We specialize in fighting. So it’s hard for them to fight us and sell burgers at the same time,” he said. “So if they were to fire one of our workers or cut one of our worker’s hours, we try to have a reasonable conversation with them because we’re very reasonable individuals.”
“If that doesn’t work, then we’ll bring 150 people and shut their store down day after day after day.”