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Recommendation to the Property Services Division Leadership Board

A Plan for Organizing Post-Labor Law Reform


We are at a pivotal moment. Despile alt of SEIU s hard work over the past 20 years to revitalize the
laboa movement, not since the Great Depression has private sector union density been so Iow,
unemployrnent so high, and the gap between rich and poor so large ln the iich;sl counlry in the
history of the world, over 40 milhon jobs in Amer'ca are low wage, the vast majority in the service
sector that js the focus of SEIU's work. Working men and women everywhere in our country struggle
to make ends meet, struggle to keep their families safe and heaithy, struggle lo find adequaie tim!-to
spend with their kids, and struggle to bujld a secure retirement.

Our Division is Lrniquely situated to take the lead jn changing thjs reality We are one of oniy four
major unions organizing wo.kers in the largest private sectoi low_wage service occupations, and we
are probably the best-resourced and the most dynamic As much atany instjtution other than the
federal government, we are Llniquely capable of affecting change on a bioad scale.

strengthening ou. base via rhe indust.iar unionism that is the ha[n']ark of sEru organizing is a big part
of this Workers in outsourced servjce industries like cleaning, security, and foodservice are
bellwethers of the service economy, and the largest employers in these industries are gaining
tremendous influence. Building our core density to the po,nt that we can dramaticalty r;ise siandards
for our members would provide a beacon of possibility within the opportunity crusher that is our
service economy.

Butwe alJ know lhe futility of being an island of progress in a sea of the status quo We must face the
reality that if unions fail to engage the vast world of low-wage work that drags down standards for ALL
workers, our gains wilr forever be rimited and oLrr effect on the broader com-munity of working families
will be minimal

No one harbors illusions that passang the Emproyee Free choice Acl wiI suddenry awaken a dormant
worker movement to reverse the march of inequality. But neither did the Wagner Act in and of itself
catalyze organizing, but rather created a wjndow of legal advantage that the;est untons of the time
took advantage of to organize on an unprecedented scale. Similarly, the labor law reform of the sort
being conter.plated now -. quick elections mandatory arbitrations, enhanced employer penalties , js
no panacea, but if enacted will represent a sjgnificant lmprovement in the law and the best opportunity
the union has had in decades lo once and for all turn the tide in favor of America s workers.

Because we feel strongly that this is not a moment for timjdity, the organizing plan detailed
here js
aimed at using labor law reform to kansform the low wage eionomy 6y making SEIU the dominant
union in the security and murtiservice industries and seeking organizing breakthroughs in the fast food
and financiaJ seciors The idea is to dramatically expand our power to win decent, mtddle_class
standards in our core industries whire estabrishing a pratform to win baserine standards in industries
previously untouched by unions the combination of which wilr hopefu|y force a re
- examination of
how wo.k is rewarded in the United Stales. At the same time, the plan l;ys out as a secondary
element expanding within the worid of property Services as a way for Lojals to build skength withln
their markels and possibry deepen the reach of the Division to row wage occupations that h-ave
on the marqins of our work

Ultimately we must ask ourselves if io 3 or 4 years we look back at whai was accornplished post,
EFCA, will we wish we had been more botd? Our belief is that this plan rneasures up very
against this s{andard

Fast food is the signal industry of lhe new, low wage service ecanomy, in which a largely female
workfarce of color toils undet bleak canditions for exploitative pay and few if any benefits Our initial
probing in this industry has taken place in the Las Angeles metra area. Los Angeles County has
over 60,000 fast food workers in just the top ten chains. When we mapped out the restaurants afthe
major chains, we saw that they encompass large groupings of low income census l.acts. While just
over 20,000 workers are employed in the top 10 chains in Fast Food in LA, we have broke down
759,6 of the geography into 4 Clusters. This encompasses just aver 15,004 of Ihe 20,000 workers.

Overall qoal: Engage workers in a "greenfield" (in terms of union presence) law-wage sevrce
industry and test the viability of the new EFCA provislons through election-based aryanizing done at
a pace and scale nat seen under the current laws. Work to raise standards for wotkers in one or bNo
metro areas, ancl if successful, use as a platfarm for broader organizing in lhe industry

One-year qoal: Organize 15,000 food seNice workers in LA County and thousands of additional
workers in an east coast market within lhe first 6 months, and beqin raisinq standatds forthese


. lniliate a focused experiment in one or two metro areas to test the organizing theory and bing
resources to bear.on a limited geographical target.

. Chose metro areas with a favarable local political environment and workforce composition (Los
Angeles and an east caast market).

. Target 7-10 of the laryest chains to keep bargaining manageable and map out geographic
clusters where field work can be concentrated.

. Build broad-based suppott for targeted warkers via extensive community outreach and
organizing and pohtical wotk with prominent local elected afficials.

. While staying focused on the 7-10 chains, bring warkers tagether across companies within
geographic clusters to build a sense of movement and solldartty

. Use a living wage as a vehicle to excite, build momentum, build watuet lists/lD potential leaders
and potentially suppott collective bargaining We believe that we will have enough traction wtth
an atdinance to use as a legitimate tool for organizing and patentially as legislation to raise

. Move fast and furious with an army of 200-340 Staff/MosryOs/other volunteers arganizers and
Ihe necessary number of leads to:

a Petition for living wage

o lD leaders
o Bring warkers together within geagraphies
a Sign authorization cards
o File on clozens of restaurants per week