On Food Service Strikes

Hundreds of Detroit fast food workers plan to walk off the job beginning at 6 am today, making the motor city the fourth in five weeks to see such strikes. Organizers expect participants from at least sixty stores, including McDonald’s, Wendy’s, Subway, Little Caesar’s, and Popeye’s locations. Like this week’s strike in St. Louis, and last month’s in New York and Chicago, today’s work stoppage is backed by a local coalition including the Service Employees International Union, and the participants are demanding a raise to $15 an hour and the chance to form a union without intimidation.

This report by the Nation is the latest on a series of one day strikes. These are being supported by service industry Unions, such as the SEIU. This is not coincidence and as they move West, I expect them to reach California, sooner or later.

This is the kind of development that might grow Unions again, and outsourcing service industry work is not easy. This is part of the strategy adopted by the Change to Win coalition to grow unions, since the Federation techniques have failed.

Time will tell if we are at the beginning of a new vibrant Union movement. But even locally we have unions doing things they used not to do. Channel Ten reports that they

Sprouts is a non-union company, but Local 135 Spokesman Mickey Kasparian said the group can help represent Rey in the grievance process with various local and state agencies.

Ian Ray was born with a disability and says he made an honest mistake. Sprouts fired him.

The key of the quote by Kasparian is this.

We’re going to represent him in his fight to get his job back. This is what a union does; we stand behind workers. He was terminated for making an honest mistake,”

Unions used not to do this in the US. If you were a Union shop, you were represented. If you did not, tough luck, next case. This is an evolution, maybe a devolution, to another era when Unions were in the future, and workers just stood together.

This might not sound like much, but the fights labor is now taking, especially the Coalition for Change unions…are telling of where we are. We might be truly at the threshold of a new labor movement.

So these two seemingly disconnected events are connected, at the granular level. The Unions are finding their fight once again.



Categories: labor, poverty, Unions

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