July 13, 2015
The Service Employees International Union’s efforts to organize America’s fast-food workers are complicated by that the overwhelming majority of them, including more than 700,000 McDonald’s workers, are employed by franchises. That means they can’t legally negotiate a contract with the corporation that owns their employer’s brand name.
To get around this, the SEIU is pursuing a two-pronged strategy. One prong is to get the courts and the National Labor Relations Board to rule that fast-food companies exercise so much control over their franchisees that they are effectively “joint employers.” The second is to use publicity to pressure fast-food corporations to order their franchisees to treat workers better. That follows the model the SEIU used in the Justice for Janitors campaign 25 years ago. “The Justice For Janitors strategy was: Go to the top of the food chain, or the economic pyramid, and figure out how do you put the maximum economic and social and political pressure on someone,” says Stephen Lerner, a strategist in that campaign. Read more