For business leaders intent on keeping the workforce happy and maintaining continuity, labor unions have long been a thorn in their side. Now, that paradigm is starting to change. According to The New York Times, unions are starting to lose their influence, but in their place, employee organizations are sprouting in an effort to band together and support low-wage workers. One such organization, Fast Food Justice in New York, has recruited 1,200 employees from the fast food industry, with each one contributing $13.50 a month.
Fast Food Justice doesn’t function like a traditional labor union, negotiating with management to hammer out work contracts; instead, the organization’s leaders are working to drive more large-scale changes that will benefit all workers, such as a higher minimum wage and other beneficial policies like affordable housing and immigration reform.<
So far, members of the new group are optimistic about the progress they’re making on behalf of laborers everywhere.
“This has been a lot of hard work, but we think this is great,” said Shantel Walker, an employee at a Papa John’s in Brooklyn, according to the Times. “We want to bring change not only in the fast food industry, but in our communities.”
The restaurant industry, meanwhile, is not so pleased. The Restaurant Law Center, which is the legal arm of the National Restaurant Association, has already filed a federal lawsuit against Fast Food Justice. Angelo Amador, the law center’s executive director, argued that these labor organizations are forcing workers to harass restaurants with money they earned at the restaurants themselves.
“It doesn’t make any sense,” he said.
Nevertheless, Fast Food Justice is growing fast. The group started out with the modest goal of coaxing just 500 employees to come on board. Today membership is already at 1,200, and leadership is hopeful to be up to 5,000 members by the end of 2018, hitting 10,000 by the end of 2020.