By Neal Tepel
Across the country Workers Organizing Committees are being formed supported by UFCE, SEIU and other progressive labor organizations. These organizing committees have linked to local community groups creating a powerful force for workers. Workers Organizing Committees are demanding increased wages for employees in retail and fast-food industries as well as improved working conditions.
At more than 150 Wal-Mart stores, workers and community activists are calling on the chain to regularize employees’ work schedules. Hundreds of fast-food and retail employees throughout the United States are asking for a minimum raise of $15-an-hour and the right to form a union. One-day strikes and demonstrations are taking place across the country in stores that pay low wages as McDonald’s, Dunkin’ Donuts, Subway, and Walmart.
With collective bargaining in the private sector in decline, only 6.6 percent of private-sector employees are union members, and the legal obstacles to organizing new members continue to exist, SEIU, UFCW, UAW, and OPEIU are shifting their focus to actions that publicize the economic and social costs of ever-growing low-wage employment.
A classical example of this new strategy is the formation of the Wal-Mart employees committees. Backed by UFCW
thousands of Wal-Mart workers have formed associations, not a union. Working with community groups the associations have been effective in forcing Wal-Mart to make employee policy changes benefiting workers.
At a time when nearly 19 in 20 private-sector workers don’t belong to union, these initiatives are a back door approach to union organizing and should be expanded.