President’s Column: Unions and restaurants – How union goals can harm you

President’s Column: Unions and restaurants – How union goals can harm you

This is article 2 of a 4 part series.

By Anthony Anton, president and CEO

RECAP: The scene in front of us is straight out of an old western – two of the most well-known gunslingers stand on either end of town; the innocent townspeople stare out the dirty windows, likely victims of the pending crossfire. The town leaders are pacing, worried about the aftermath. Instead of wearing cowboy gear, one of the gunslingers is dressed in a purple shirt emblazoned with union letters, the other is wearing a burgundy visor showcasing a corporate logo. Instead of guns, both have millions of dollars in their holsters. This is not David vs. Goliath; this is two Goliaths.

Last month, in part one of this four-part article, we reviewed how we got we got here. In part two, we are looking at how this showdown could impact the regulatory environment for local restaurateurs. Small businesses are unlikely to ever be a part of union organizing efforts, but they will be affected by the union’s plan.

To successfully organize, unions must first mandate changes in the restaurant model

Last year SEIU spent more than $38 million to move its plan forward. This is a major effort, and it is being very strategic. For unions to successfully organize national corporations, they must transform the playing field. With the activities in Seattle, we learn more about what the union agenda is and how it is damaging to local restaurants. So what needs to legally change for unions to triumph? At least the following:

Restaurant wages must be profitable for unions – Make no mistake, this is the union’s business, and businesses must show a profit. They make their profit by charging a percentage of a worker’s wage. Therefore, wages among hourly workers need to rise to a level that is profitable for unions. This explains the real reason unions are investing so heavily in the passage of a $15 minimum wage.

Part-time work must go away – No one wants to join a union for a part-time job. Therefore, the average hours per week need to increase to make workers feel like it’s worthwhile to pay union dues. Proposals are floating all over the country that outlaw, restrict and financially punish those who offer part-time work.

Change the culture of a “first job” – No one wants to join a union for a first-time job that they are not likely to have in a year. In order to ensure employees join unions, the average age of the worker needs to increase or a picture of stuck workers needs to be created. The myth of the stuck worker is not backed up by statistics, but has been consistently messaged by unions.

Mandate benefits – Over the past 20 years, people have been expecting less and less from their employers and are seeking to be increasingly self-reliant. This is a major problem for unions that have relied on benefits as a main attraction. Requiring health care, paid sick leave, paid family leave, etc., might reopen a closed window for unions.

Make unionizing easier via legal channels – For unions, it is unprofitable to organize store by store. Unions need the legal ability to have a single target. They need to make franchisees and franchisors into one entity so they can be managed legally and not seen as small entrepreneurs. This is the reason for the recent Seattle and NLRB proposals.

The story continues

So with the risks to the regulatory environment identified, we return to this place out west – the tumbleweed blows across an empty street – a long camera angle shows the back of one gunslinger and the outline of the other on the far end of town.

In next month’s third installment of this article, I will highlight the non-regulatory impacts to the restaurant industry. Although the showdown will continue between the two giants, the WRA will be actively fighting for you, our members.

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