The New York Post recently ran a Center for Union Facts opinion piece explaining Thursday’s fast food strikes—the most prominent of which was in New York City—and the role of labor’s misleading front groups, so-called “worker centers.” In the piece, our executive director reminds readers that worker centers are not self-purported community organizations, but rather alternative labor unions created to circumnavigate federal labor law. We further explain the slim difference between unions and worker centers and how these centers are simply desperate attempts to re-brand labor’s mid-life crisis:
In other words, worker centers are a thinly veiled attempt at rebranding. And labor unions are desperate for them to work. Between the early 1990s and the mid-2000s, the number of worker centers grew from five or fewer to at least 230, according to the AFL-CIO — and that number has continued to rise at an astonishing rate, with dozens founded in the last year alone.
While these organizations have many of the trappings of traditional labor unions, the one thing they don’t do is bargain directly with employers.
This is not the first time we have touched on the recent abuses of worker centers. Last Friday, we touched on the ulterior motives of SEIU organizers and the dues money to be gained from unionizing the fast food industry.
Labor’s blatant disregard for regulations have been increasingly apparent as “worker centers” use tactics that would be illegal for labor unions including “wildcat” strikes and illegally occupying businesses. But these groups aren’t what they appear: Far from expressions of widespread worker dissent, they are professionally organized union activism:
These groups all use a similar strategy: headline-grabbing national actions that mobilize a comparatively small number of employees, with help from professional organizers.
This approach gives the appearance of widespread dissent, even where none may actually exist. The much-ballyhooed but little-attended Black Friday protests by OUR Walmart or the periodic fast-food “wild cat” strikes of the past few months are the prime examples.
As you can see, worker centers are not the humble bands of employees that unions would have you believe. They often receive heavy funding (in the millions) from the deep pockets of big labor in addition to backing from trained support staff.