Tuesday, November 10, 2015

What can you do about today’s “Fight for 15” protests?

Today, workers will protest in 270 different cities, clamoring for a higher $15 minimum wage. It’s part of a broader movement called Fight for 15. The organization has provided employees explicit instructions on how to execute a one-day strike, like those that will happen today.

How to Go on a One-Day Strike

15 steps for $15 an hour and the right to form a union

Before you strike for $15:

  1. Talk to coworkers you trust and ask them to join you.
  2. Set the time to meet outside the store on the day of the strike.
  3. Call everyone you know to support you: friends, family, local social justice organizations, pastors, priests, and politicians and ask them to come to your strike line.
  4. Ask at least one of your supporters to walk back into to work with you at your next regularly scheduled shift after the strike.

Day of the strike for $15:

  1. Make signs that say why you are on strike.
  2. Print out and deliver the “Strike” letter to your manager (everyone who is on strike should sign it).
  3. Start your strike! Stand outside your store with your supporters and let people know you all are standing up for $15 an hour and the right to organize a union because low pay is not ok!
  4. Call the local TV station and newspaper and let them know you are on strike at your store.
  5. Call or text family and friends who aren’t there yet to come and support you.
  6. Chant, march, sing and let everyone who is on strike explain why they are there.
  7. Ask supporters to come with you when you and your coworkers return to work.
  8. Post pictures of your strike on Facebook at Facebook.com/Fightfor15 and tweet them to@fightfor15.

After the strike for $15:

  1. Meet up with your supporter who is walking with you to work.
  2. Go back to work at your next regularly scheduled shift with your head held high.
  3. Tell your coworkers how it felt to stand up for $15 an hour and the right to form union with thousands of other workers across the country! Sign them up at Fightfor15.org.

Sadly, there is not much you can do about it. Just last week, the NLRB confirmed that employees have the right to engage in these “Fight for 15” protests, and that employers cannot discipline, discharge, or otherwise retaliate against employees who participate or otherwise support the movement. This protection even likely extends to employees who walk off the job to protest. And, I shouldn’t have to remind you that the NLRA’s protections not only extend to physical protests, but also to cyber-protests via social media, email, and other e-communications.

Finally, employers cannot forget the importance of August’s Browning-Ferris decision. Corporations that attempt to exert any control regarding protests at their franchised locations risk a finding of joint employment, and all of the attendant collective bargaining and unfair labor practice implications that go with that finding.

What is an employer to do? Sadly, not much. If protests get out of hand, you have property rights you can exert. Otherwise, you have little option other than to let the protests occur. Indeed, attempting to halt the protests will likely make matters worse, by drawing attention to your efforts to silence your employees. This movement (which is more about the role of the working class in our society than whether workers earn a few dollar more per hour) is not going away, and will only increase in noise as we near next year’s presidential election. Get ready, because today’s protest is but one chapter in a much larger story.

[Image via Unite News]