Labor Relations Institute president Phillip Wilson said a memo leaked by the SEIU late last week signifies the Service Employees International Union's intent to target the fast food industry, pending the passage of the Employee Free Choice Act, which makes it easier for employees to unionize.
The memo, which the SEIU has not confirmed as their own, delineates a plan to organize fast food workers in Los Angeles, and rally them around living wages and other approachable issues. The delineated strategy included the end intent to "move fast and furious with an army of 200-300 staff," identify leaders, sign authorization cards, and "file on dozens of restaurants per week."
The SEIU, one of the labor movement's largest factions, has issued a press release disavowing their intent to go after the fast food segment. But Wilson, head of LRI, a consulting company that helps companies deter union activity, said the SEIU's denial is to be expected -- and outlines the labor union movement's growing activity in the restaurant space this year. So far, Wilson said, the National Labor Relations Board, the federal agency that administers the National Labor Relations Act, has already filed 53 petitions for bars, restaurants and foodservice this year -- just a few shy of the number filed all last year, and the same number filed for all of 2008.
Many large pizza QSRs who wish not to be named have expressed ongoing vigilance of the situation. Wilson admits their union activity has not been as dire as other industries.'
"Over the last 5 years the Domino's and Pizza Hut chains have both been attacked multiple times (Dominos 7 times and Pizza Hut twice)," Wilson said. "The big risk these brands have is if a union picks them as a target and then engages in anti-corporate campaign activity to harm the brand, like they did with the tomato growers issue going against Burger King and Taco Bell recently."