Fight for $15 Organizers’ Attempt to Seek Their Own Union Rebuffed by SEIU: "They're Not Our Employees"

September 16, 2016

Even as SEIU and other unions attempt to broaden liability for companies vis-à-vis their contractors, franchisees and others, the union itself is disclaiming any employment relationship with the organizers that are doing the heavy lifting for the union in its Fight for $15 campaign.  Last month, at a conference in Richmond, security guards prevented a small group of organizers from approaching SEIU President Mary Kay Henry prior to her keynote address in order to make their demands.  In addition, according to the Union of Union Representatives (UUR), a supervisor told them they had to fly back to Las Vegas at their own expense.  SEIU has told the Fight for $15 field organizers who might be eligible to join the staff union that it doesn’t employ them.  UUR claims that, at first, SEIU maintained their employer was the payroll processing firm that handles their paychecks. Now, the international contends they are employed by the individual organizing committees that direct each city’s Fight for $15 campaign.  Yet, UUR claims that nearly 99 percent of funding for Fight for $15 organizers, as well as vehicles and supplies, comes from SEIU.  Fight for $15 organizers contend they have a long list of grievances against SEIU, including job and scheduling instability and long hours that effectively lower their own pay below $15 per hour.  “We don’t have the right to join a union that we’re fighting for other workers to have,” a UUR spokeswoman contends. “When we’re fighting for everyone to have $15 an hour, we should have it ourselves.”