Friday, 8 April 2016

US: How unions transformed the lives of millions of low-wage workers

In an article in the LA Times, labour expert Harold Meyerson analyses the success of Fight for 15 - the campaign to raise the minimum wage:

When SEIU and a band of 200 New York City fast-food workers began the Fight for 15 in 2012, their goal was to unionize the sector, beginning with the industry giant, McDonald’s. That goal is as elusive today as it was then, but the campaign has nonetheless begun to transform the lives of millions of low-wage workers.

Both California and New York have decided to raise the minimum wage. It’s a similar story with the workers who fought unsuccessfully for organising rights at Seattle’s SeaTac airport but ended up winning a higher minimum wage across Seattle:

It proved easier to win a significant raise for 100,000 Seattle workers than to unionize 4,000 workers at the city’s airport — with whom management has yet to sit down at the bargaining table.

Meyerson argues that unions are facing disfunctional labour laws and losing power, but still they manage to win significant improvements for workers. It will take even more of that ingenuity and tenacity to find solutions for today’s disintegrating labour market where regular jobs are replaced by temps, independent contractors, on-call workers and subcontracted workers.

LA Times

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