Unions really began embracing their alt-labor organizing approach back in 2012. Groups like Our Walmart and Fight for $15 are the most well-known today. While they continue to claim to be a grassroots effort, began out of the sheer desire of working people to demand more, they weren’t. Unions provided the organization and funding. Now they are moving out of the workplace and into the community (e.g. Black Lives Matter) protesting things like police brutality, racial injustice, and the cyclical cycles of poverty. And now that the veil has been removed, unions are less concerned with covering up their association.
Take the Future Fighters for example. This group of young workers began out of the Service Employees Healthcare Illinois-Indiana. If you’re attending a Black Lives Matter rally or Fight for $15 protest these days, you’re likely to run across them. It helps to realize that where unions are strong (especially those who front such groups, like the SEIU), the movements are likely to be strong as well. Case in point, Black Lives Matter is really wimpy in Detroit (as is SEIU), but really well-oiled in Chicago and Milwaukee, where chaos has been prevalent.
On the Fight for $15 front specifically, the Cleveland city council rejected a $15 minimum wage earlier this month, but supporters made it very clear that they won’t back down. At the end of the meeting, members of Rise Up Cleveland, another alt-labor group backed by SEIU, “filed out of council chambers, chanting, ‘See you in November!’”
A similar situation occurred in Minneapolis after a city council meeting voted to reject a move toward a $15 minimum wage. Except this time, dozens of members of Neighborhoods Organizing for Change, successfully shut down the hearing altogether. A few weeks later, Judge Susan Robiner of Hennepin County overruled the city council’s decision and ordered a $15 minimum wage question to be put on the ballot in November.
Click here for a run-down of Fight for $15’s political path.