By Dan Chapman and Leon Stafford
Higher-wage rallies in Atlanta have followed a predictable script - until now.
Unions or their affiliates typically gather fast-food workers outside a Burger King or an Arby’s and bull-horn their grievances to sympathizers and bewildered passersby. As street theater goes, it’s fun but ineffectual. Pay for most fast-food workers has remained stuck at $7.25 an hour since the protests began nearly two years ago.
In essence, the NLRB ruling means unions could one day organize nationally among all McDonald’s workers, rather than one store at a time. Labor experts say it’s a huge boost for the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), which has tried to unionize fast-food restaurants the last few years. Its main grievance: low pay.
“Today we are celebrating a major victory,” Neil Sardana, a community organizer with the nonprofit Jobs With Justice, said via megaphone to 15 activists protesting recently outside a McDonald’s on Fulton Industrial Blvd. “This campaign is really directed at the corporate headquarters of McDonald’s. You guys are responsible for low wages. You are the boss. (And) now we are one step closer to $15 an hour and a union.”
Nowhere perhaps did the ruling reverberate louder than in Atlanta, headquarters for Arby’s, Chick-fil-A, Popeye’s and other fast-food franchises, as well as many hotel, retail and temp agency chains.
“The restaurant industry is deeply concerned about this. It totally changes the nature of the franchisee-franchisor relationship,” said Karen Bremer, executive director of the Georgia Restaurant Association. “It could have a significant effect on, gosh, wages, taxes, workman’s comp rates, insurance, you name it.”
Bremer said the association will challenge the ruling in court. And it’s unlikely the local McDonald’s or Hooters will go union anytime soon. Still, the ruling, as well as the movement to raise the minimum wage, troubles the franchise and contracting industries. Click here to read the full article.