Fight for 15/Fast Food Forward

Fast Food Forward (FFF) and Fight for 15 were launched by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU) in late 2012.  This campaign builds upon tactics pioneered in the SEIU’s Justice for Janitors campaign and furthered in anti-Walmart campaigns such as Walmart Watch and OUR Walmart.

While Fast Food Forward and Fight for 15 are the most recognizable efforts, the SEIU is intentionally using different names and relying on different local worker centers in each market to portray these efforts as local, grassroots uprisings.  Local efforts often take on an individualized banner, such as St Louis’ Can’t Survive on $7.35.  The SEIU’s customization of local efforts allows the union to select and fund the most promising worker centers, or simply launch their own.  Additionally, the union itself is hiring or deploying staff to target cities to carry out strikes and protests.

These strikes, primarily focused on national fast food restaurant and retail brands, are designed to drive the unions’ political agenda, forward unionization efforts and pressure employers to raise wages and increase benefits. With the service sector jobs, which includes the restaurant and retail industries, replacing the manufacturing jobs, unions recognize that they will soon be irrelevant if they cannot devise new ways to organize this set of workers.

Founding

The SEIU’s Fast Food Forward/Fight for 15 campaign has been in development for years.  As early as 2009 according to internal SEIU documents, the union was planning on targeting “7-10 chains” in markets with “a favorable local political environment.”  These efforts would eventually become the so-called Fight for a Fair ...

Funding

Primary funding for both Fast Food Forward and Fight for 15 has been provided by SEIU. In New York, the money is donated through New York Communities for Change, which rose from the ashes of ACORN in 2010. In spring of 2013, the group used funds to hire 40 fast food organizers. In Chicago, ...

Key Alliances

Fast Food Forward is a well-funded, well-oiled, and professionally staffed collaboration of the Service Employees International Union 32BJ (SEIU 32BJ), and New York Communities for Change (NYCC), the group that replaced the disgraced ACORN (PDF) organization  and includes many of its former staffers and community supporters. In Chicago, SEIU-funded Action ...

Size and Scope

The SEIU initial efforts focused on Chicago and New York, but have since expanded to other markets, including but not limited to St. Louis, Milwaukee, Detroit, Miami, Cleveland, Kansas City, Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Greensboro, Atlanta, San Diego and beyond.  In each market, worker centers, with names like Good Jobs ...

Tactics

SEIU is not only providing financial support but it is also hiring employees on the ground in numerous cities to create worker organizing committees to increase pressure and keep local supporters active.  SEIU is providing training and expertise to help these organizers become more effective. Unlike traditional union drives, marked ...