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SEIU’s New Burger Queen? Internal Documents Expose Plan to Unionize Fast-Food Industry

If you’d like to see how a union plans to exploit and target workers if the hallucinogencially-named Employee Free Choice Act (aka “card-check”) is passed, read this post.

Last weekend, we reported on what appeared to be a new union battle that the SEIU was going to wage by invading the UFCW’s turf and attempting to unionize grocery workers.  The foundation of this was an interview new SEIU boss Mary Kay Henry gave to a reporter.  On Tuesday, the SEIU was forced to issue a press release reassuring the UFCW it had no plans on invading (also known as raiding) the food sector.

SEIU fully recognizes the food sector as a core industry of sister union United Food and Commercial Workers International Union (UFCW), which represents more than a million supermarket workers.

Well, it turns out that the SEIU’s “correction” (see above) may not be entirely accurate.

Internal SEIU documents have exposed a December 2009 plan hatched to unionize the nation’s fast food workers.  The SEIU plan details how the purple behemoth plans on targeting fast-food chains in Los Angeles first, the using L.A. and an “east coast” city as a spring board into other cities.

The SEIU’s plan is based on a labor landscape that is post Employee Free Choice Act, but its strategies demonstrate how the SEIU plans to use EFCA to unionize an almost-entirely union-free industry.  While there is much to comment on about the SEIU plan and how a union targets workers within an industry (see highlighted text), we’re just going to show you the plan itself.

In its plan, the SEIU states:

Our initial probing in this industry has taken place in the Los Angeles metro area.  Los Angeles County has over 60,000 fast food workers in just the top ten chains.  When we mapped out the restaurants of the major chains, we saw that they encompass large groupings of low income tracts.  While just over 20,000 workers are employed in the top 10 chains in Fast Food in LA, we have broke [sic] down 75% of the geography into 4 Clusters.  This encompasses just over 15,000 of the 20,000 workers.

The SEIU’s One-year goal:

Organize 15,000 food service workers in LA County and thousands of additional workers in an east coast market within the first 6 months, and begin raising the standards for these workers.

The SEIU lays out its strategy, as follow:

  • Initiate a focused experiment in one or two metro areas to test the organizing theory and bring resources to bear on a limited geographical target.
  • Choose metro areas with a favorable local political environment and workforce composition (Los Angeles and an east coast market)
  • Target 7-10 of the largest chains to keep bargaining manageable and map out geographic clusters where field work can be concentrated.
  • Build broad-based support for targeted workers via extensive community outreach and organizing and political work with prominent local elected officials
  • While staying focused on the 7-120 chains, bring workers together across companies within geographic clusters to build a sense of movement and solidarity.
  • Use a living wage as a vehicle to excite, build momentum, build worker lists/ID potential leaders and potentially support collective bargaining.  We believe we will have enough traction with an ordinance to use as a legitimate tool for organizing and potentially as legislation to raise standards.
  • Move fast and furious with an army of 200-300 Staff/MOs/VOs/other volunteer organizers and the necessary number of leads to:
  • Petition for living wage
  • ID leaders
  • Bring workers together within geographies
  • Sign authorization cards
  • File on dozens of restaurants per week

While the SEIU’s plan was prepared during the reign of Andy Stern and presented to the SEIU’s Executive Board, there is no indication to believe that this plan has changed as Mary Kay Henry has committed $4 million to organizing and was part of the Executive Board at the time of this proposal.

You can read the rest of the SEIU plan here…

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“I bring reason to your ears, and, in language as plain as ABC, hold up truth to your eyes.” Thomas Paine, December 23, 1776
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