Fast-Food Workers Claim Victory in a New York Labor Effort

With labor unions seeing their influence wane, more than 200 organizations have sprouted nationwide to help low-wage workers. But nearly all these groups say they are hampered by a lack of dependable funding because, unlike unions, they cannot rely on a steady flow of dues.

To the dismay of many business groups, New York City enacted an innovative law last year that many labor advocates hope will become a model to finance such organizations across the nation.

Under the law, fast-food employees who want to contribute to a nonprofit, nonunion workers’ group can insist on having the restaurant they work for deduct money from their pay and forward that money to the group. But before a group can receive these contributions, it must get 500 workers to pledge to contribute.

One such group, Fast Food Justice, planned to announce on Wednesday that 1,200 New York fast-food workers have signed pledges to contribute $13.50 a month to the organization.

The new group will not seek to negotiate contracts as unions do, but its leaders say it will most likely push for a higher minimum wage and for many other issues fast-food workers support, including affordable housing, immigration reform, better police-community relations and improvements to New York’s subway system.

“What’s important about this law is it provides for a way for fast-food workers to help sustain a nonprofit organization that’s dedicated to advocating for issues that members say is important to them,” said Tsedeye Gebreselassie, chairwoman of Fast Food Justice’s board and a senior staff attorney at the National Employment Law Project. For example, the group’s leaders said many members were interested in pushing for reduced transit fares for low-wage workers.

Fast Food Justice’s leaders say they hope to get 5,000 workers to contribute by the end of 2018, and 10,000 by the end of 2020. (New York City has about 65,000 fast-food workers.) Contributions from 5,000 workers would mean revenue of more than $800,000 a year.

You can read the full article at The New York Times.


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