In a real-life “what’s good for the goose isn’t good for the gander” story, the Service Employees International Union is countering a unionization effort involving some of its own employees.
According to an editorial in the September 2, 2016, The Wall Street Journal, the employees whom the SEIU has hired to protest outside businesses and restaurants across the country as part of the “Fight for $15” movement want to unionize. According to the publication Working In These Times, the SEIU has told the approximately 100 Fight for $15 field organizers who might be eligible to join the existing staff union (Union of Union Representatives) that it does not employ them. The SEIU instead claims the employees are employed by individual organizing committees in each of the cities where a Fight for $15 campaign exists.
The SEIU’s position brings to mind the National Labor Relations Board’s landmark decision in Browning-Ferris Industries of California, 362 NLRB No. 186 (Aug. 27, 2015). In that case, the NLRB, at the urging of the union movement, greatly liberalized the “test” for finding an employer to be a joint employer of employees of the primary employer. The NLRB decided that “indirect control” over employees by the secondary employer is enough for a finding of joint employment. The UUR believes SEIU is, at least, a joint employer of the “Fight for $15” organizers.
According to The Wall Street Journal, the Union of Union Representatives, which is seeking to represent the organizers, has filed an unfair labor practice charge against the SEIU with the NLRB. According to Working In These Times, Conor Hanlon, the UUR’s president, said, “[W]e are disappointed that SEIU chose to escalate and create divisions between workers and organizers rather than act on our shared principles and beliefs about the fair treatment workers deserve. Nonetheless, the Fight for $15 workers will not be silenced and UUR will continue to fight with them until they are recognized as SEIU employees and getting the treatment they deserve.”