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09.04.2014 1

SEIU to protest fast food with illegal acts today

mcdonalds_strikeBy Brad Tidwell

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) and Fast Food Forward is targeting fast food companies like McDonald’s and Burger King with illegal acts and widespread civil disobedience, escalating their efforts in their “Fight for 15” $15 minimum wage campaign.

“They’re going to use nonviolent civil disobedience as a way to call attention to what they’re facing,” promised SEIU president Mary Kay Henry.

In the lead up to today’s protest, one worker told The Guardian that the union adopted a motion to do “whatever it takes” to achieve their goal: “Thirteen-hundred workers unanimously adopted a resolution at our convention in July to do whatever it takes to win $15 an hour and union rights, including participating in non-violent, peaceful protests in the tradition of the civil rights movement.”

Despite the call to nonviolence and reference to the civil rights movement, that has not always been the case when the SEIU has been involved. The SEIU’s history is replete with examples of violent behavior and use of threats to get what they want. In fact, the SEIU was quite friendly with the violent protest organizers of Occupy Wall Street, even offering them free office space.

This becomes particularly problematic as the New York Times is reporting that the SEIU will be using home healthcare workers to artificially increase their numbers today: “[T]his time labor organizers plan to increase the pressure by staging widespread civil disobedience and having thousands of home-care workers join the protests….Some franchise operators have dismissed the walkout, saying that in previous one-day strikes, only a handful of employees at their restaurants walked out, barely disrupting business.”

These outside agitators with no direct ties to the restaurant or their employees are an intentional attempt by the union to increase tensions and create headlines grabbing lawlessness.

The attempt to artificially inflate their numbers is certainly not new for the SEIU. Previously, protesters have been caught on video admitting to being paid to protest for the union. Using outside, unassociated union members to escalate visibility and pressure when the real numbers would only amount to a handful is par for the course.

Meanwhile, there is increased concern being voiced about whether these efforts have anything to do with what the SEIU is supposed to be about‒helping their own members achieve better wages and working conditions. The SEIU has spent millions in the fast food area, and there is no clear indication the industry will be unionizing any time soon.

In fact, the SEIU’s efforts may be the worst way to endear themselves to the industry, as well as undermine the very employees they say they want to help. An increase of wages to $15 is more likely to result in fewer jobs for workers, as companies like McDonalds and Burger King turn to automation to replace the handfuls of workers who leave their company to protest.  And the SEIU’s efforts polarize the conversation and add potentially violent disruption to the conversation in tomorrow’s protest may backfire, as did the aims of Occupy Wall Street.

Today’s protest highlights the disconnect in the SEIU between their goals and their members’ needs. They are willing to spend millions on an artificial movement with no clear benefit to their membership, but aren’t willing to consider the consequences for those they say they want to help. Is it any wonder the SEIU continues to shrink?

Brad Tidwell is the web editor of Americans for Limited Government.

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