A Union Ruse to Organize Mom-and-Pop Stores
Steve Caldeira, president of the International Franchise Association wrote an opinion piece for the Wall Street Journal. He describes the strategy of the S.E.I.U. Regardless of whether one represents the interests of franchisors or franchisees, I am of the opinion that this issue is potentially one of the most serious to ever face the franchise industry.
City councils across America are considering raising the minimum wage. But the fine print in many of their proposals, including one recently signed into law in Seattle, has a provision that increases the wage floor faster for certain small businesses simply because they're affiliated with national chains. The provision is a cynical ploy by its author, the Service Employees International Union, to organize workers more easily. In the guise of trying to help the working poor, the SEIU is trying to help itself.
The approach being used by the S.E.I.U. and other unions has been described before
This is a problem for a union such as the SEIU. Trying to organize thousands of individual, small businesses that have mere handfuls of employees is difficult. A union would prefer to deal with large entities that have lots of workers. It would only need to unionize a few of them to fill its coffers.
With union membership declining and population shifts to more right to work states, this tactic by unions makes sense.
The SEIU has launched a multicity campaign to increase the minimum wage and redefine franchisees as big businesses, not small ones. If the courts and federal agencies go along with the change, unions can start organizing entire national chains. Seattle's city council and mayor recently adopted this radical notion. Other cities, such as Chicago and New York, are on the verge of doing the same.
I haven't seen evidence of this but I wouldn't dismiss the influence and power of the S.E.I.U.
But at the request of the SEIU, the city council and mayor classified franchisees not as the small, locally owned businesses they are, but as giant corporations. The result: The law treats a single hotel or restaurant as if it employs more than 500 people, even if it employs only five people. Put another way, a non-franchise company with 450 workers is considered a small employer and gets extra time to implement the wage increase. But a franchisee with 45 employees is a large employer, and gets less time to raise its wage floor, if its franchise network employs more than 500 workers nationwide.