The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) is slashing its organizing budget by $90 million, in a sign that unions fear their message will not resonate during a Trump administration, according to Businessweek.
Breitbart News has reported extensively on the bare knuckles tactics of the SEIU-backed protests that eventually led to Los Angeles and many other large cities across the U.S. adopting some form of $15 minimum wage.
SEIU President Mary Kay Henry stated at the time: “Together, we will continue to fight in the streets until greedy corporations and the politicians who favor them over working people take steps to restore the chance for all American families to get ahead. We will not stop until all work is valued and every community has the chance to thrive.”
Under the banner, “Fight for $15,” the SEIU’s strike efforts targeted national chains — including McDonald’s, Burger King, Wendy’s, Domino’s, Papa John’s, Kentucky Fried Chicken and Pizza Hut. The mostly minimum wage strikers demanded a “living wage,” better working conditions, and the right to form a union without retaliation to address what they called wage theft. The series of U.S. strikes grew to reach 200 cities by April 2015.
Despite 30 states and Washington, D.C. already paying higher minimum wages than what is required under federal law, both California Gov. Jerry Brown and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo signed bills in April 2016 to raise the minimum wage in steps to $15 dollars an hour for the first time in any state.
Over the three-and-a-half year battle, the SEIU was reported to have spent over $30 million in support of “Fight for $15” and to unionize low-wage workers during the campaign. After gaining the endorsement and donations of the SEIU, Democrat Hillary Clinton in August 2015 committed to signing a $15 minimum wage if elected president. Given the reported polling by the media, SEIU thought they had accomplished their national goal.
But President-elect Donald Trump’s win came as a shock to the SEIU. Bracing for lean times during and a continuing populist revolt against big government, Bloomberg Businessweek reported that according to an SEIU internal memo, the union is planning for a 30 percent budget for 2017.
Blaming the coming Republican control of all three branches of the federal government and the need for the SEIU to re-evaluate its strategy, SEIU President Mary Kay Henry wrote in the December 14 internal staff memo: “These threats require us to make tough decisions that allow us to resist these attacks and to fight forward despite dramatically reduced resources.” She warned that the union “must plan for a 30% reduction” in budget by Jan. 1, 2018, including a 10 percent cut beginning January 1.
Given that the SEIU has about 2 million government, health-care, and building-services members who generate a $300 million annual budget, the cuts mean that America’s second-largest union expects to slash $90 million in annual spend.