A New Strategy for Worker Mobilization

Harold Meyerson argues that demands by fast-food workers for higher wages are gaining some traction.

“Even though the campaign has yet to win a union contract for a single worker, it already has to be judged a signal success. By highlighting the abysmal incomes of millions of hardworking Americans, it has prodded governments to phase in minimum-wage increases in a growing number of cities and states.”

The fast-food workers’ campaign, then, may be viewed not simply as a unionization drive but also as the second act of a broader workers’ movement kicked off by the Occupy Wall Street demonstrations of 2011.”

“The fast-food campaign, similarly, has not produced — not yet, at least — anything resembling a union contract, but it has staged enough high-profile actions, with a compelling economic and moral message, to win real gains for workers, whether those workers stand to ever become union members or not.”

“In today’s America, workers can still mobilize and win, but their victories are far more likely to come in the political and legislative arenas, where unions retain some power, than in actually building unions, which the weakness of U.S. labor law renders nearly impossible.”

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