California fast food workers celebrate formation of Fast Food Council. | Photo: Shutterstock
When details of California’s new fast-food wage-setting process were released last summer, one element didn’t make sense. The new protocol called for two seats on the new Fast Food Council to be given to “fast food supporters,” but the unions that were slated to receive seats were in the sector, with the exception of several organized Starbucks stores. This was a major headache, as the company had virtually no presence.
Now the mystery is solved. The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) announced Friday that it is forming a new union specifically for fast food workers in the state.
SEIU praised the California Fast Food Workers Union as the first union of its kind in the United States. Its formation is consistent with SEIU’s goal of facilitating so-called “sectoral negotiations,” starting in California and then spreading to other regions. The idea is to make the union the voice of the entire industry, in this case by organizing only fast food workers in the nation’s largest state-run restaurant market.
This approach allows labor organizations to organize hundreds of thousands of workers in a highly fragmented industry like the restaurant industry without having to travel from store to store or even chain to chain. Become.
SEIU reaffirmed that goal earlier this week with the announcement of a leadership change scheduled for May.
“The California Fast Food Workers Union, led by Black and Latino cooks and cashiers, is a shining example of what is possible when workers take power.” SEIU President Mary Kay Henry said in a statement. “Today marks a major step forward for fast food workers in California and for workers around the world. ”
The fast food union announcement comes as the city of Minneapolis is creating a labor board similar to California’s Fast Food Council. The Minneapolis version would address wages and working conditions across all industries in the city, but the charter will now include provisions to separate sectoral subcommittees.
The proposal for the Minneapolis Labor Standards Commission would give the panel only the power to recommend changes to wages and working conditions, unlike California’s Fast Food Council. The council has the power to recommend a wage increase of up to 3.5% from January next year.
As part of the agreement that led to the creation of the council, the minimum wage for California’s estimated 500,000 fast food workers will increase by $20 in April, about $30 above the current mandated wage floor. %Rise. It can only recommend changes to workplace conditions to the state Department of Labor.
In announcing the formation of the California Fast Food Workers Union, SEIU said the new group would aim to capture the full 3.5 percent annual increase in the state’s fast food minimum wage.
It also suggested new forces would push to end arbitrary firings by fast-food employers and set a minimum number of hours workers are entitled to work.
SEIU announced that a preliminary meeting of organizers and employees of the California Fast Food Workers Union will be held today in Los Angeles. Several hundred workers were expected to attend.
SEIU is the second largest labor union in the country and the largest in the hospitality industry. This comes from groups such as Fight for $15 and Union, which are trying to eliminate tip credits nationwide, and Workers United, the arm of Starbucks that is trying to organize by store. It is an umbrella organization. Members of the new union are also members of his SEIU.
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