The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) joined with New York State’s attorney general and filed suit against Ron Johnson, the owner of five Papa John’s pizza stores in downtown Manhattan, for “wage theft” back in October. The two interlocked forces are seeking $2 million in damages for failing, according to the two plaintiffs, to pay adequately more than 400 pizza delivery drivers.
According to the Daily Signal, SEIU and New York’s attorney general really don’t work out of the same office, but they might as well. The statement from AG Eric Schneidermann contained this comment from Kendall Fells, the organizing director for Fast Food Forward:
Fast-food workers all across the city and country are organizing for higher pay and union rights….
This suit shows why the campaign is so important. And it shows that Attorney General Schneidermann is serious about holding fast-food companies accountable for wage theft.
Fast Food Forward is the current resurrected iteration of the disgraced Association of Community Organizations for Reform Now (better known as ACORN) freshly funded with millions from SEIU. It has found a friend in Schneidermann, who successfully exacted hundreds of thousands of dollars (the actual amount of the settlement is unknown) from the owners of six Domino’s Pizza stores in 2013 for allegedly not paying their workers minimum wage, overtime, or personal vehicle reimbursements, along with another $500,000 from the Cisneros Group, operator of a number of New York McDonald’s restaurants.
Efforts to unionize fast-food workers have failed miserably, and so SEIU has decided to focus its attack on the owners, one at a time. Rick Manning, communications director for Americans for Limited Government (ALG), sees the danger in the too-close link between SEIU and the New York AG’s office:
[FFF is] basically out to unionize the fast-food work force and to campaign for a minimum-wage increase. They are targeting non-union companies and applying pressure.
What we are seeing in New York and other parts of the country is an effort to use government as an organizing tool for unions.
The devious subterranean effort is nothing less than extortion, according to ALG’s president, Nathan Mehrens:
ACORN’s abuses of the public trust were so grievous that Congress denied them funding and shut them down.
Now, SEIU is recycling these same bad apples, hoping no one notices that their effort is nothing more than a rotten-to-the-core extortion scheme.
SEIU’s brazen frontal attacks to pressure fast-food workers to join their union and pay it dues face nearly insurmountable obstacles. First, most of the minimum-wage workers are just glad to have a job and couldn’t care less about being unionized. Second, for many a minimum-wage job is a stepping-stone to a better, higher-paying job, and they don’t want the baggage of union membership sullying their resumés. Third, the rate of turnover in the fast-food industry is legendary — often exceeding 50 percent in a year — so the extraction of dues and replacing those who have left with new members would be a nightmare for the unions.
In addition, public support for union thugs inside SEIU continues to drop. The latest numbers from Pew Research (February 2014) showed the “long downward slide for unions” both in absolute numbers (11.9 million in 1983 to 7.3 million in 2013) and in percentage of all U.S. wage and salary workers (20 percent in 1983 to 11 percent in 2013). Put another way, in 30 years union membership in the United States has dropped by nearly 50 percent.