The Fight for $15 low wage movement has long had two goals: winning a $15 -an-hour wage for low-paid workers and a union for fast-food workers. On wages it has been a major success – seven states have enacted minimum wage laws scheduled to reach $15 – but so far it has made little progress unionizing fast-food workers. That could soon change.
A Manhattan-based union local that works closely with the Fight for $15 has launched an effort to unionize Chipotle and McDonald’s workers, getting workers at more than 50 restaurants to sign pro-union cards. “We’re running a campaign for workers in an industry that has been abusing its workers,” said Kyle Bragg, president of the local carrying out the unionization drive, Local 32BJ of the Service Employees International Union. “These workers want a union. We’re organizing in order to lift workers and improve their lives.”
With its latest effort, Local 32BJ, a powerful local union with 175,000 members, hopes to make clear to Chipotle and McDonald’s that it is intent on unionizing their restaurants in New York, and they shouldn’t oppose that effort. Union officials say a majority of the hundreds of fast-food workers organizers have approached have signed cards supporting a union.