Fast Food Workers and Pot Pushers are the Same Thing to Unions

Tomorrow is supposed to be a nationwide fast food worker strike. Organized by worker centers representing labor unions, this strike is the latest outburst by unions seeking to organize the largely non-union fast food industry.

With union membership at (or near) an historic low, unions are trying to organize fast food workers and newly legalized marijuana dealers with equal vigor. Using a play on words, AFL-CIO President Richard Trumka – the man who talks to the White House every day – recently said, “to be blunt, our basic system of workplace representation is failing to meet the needs of America’s workers by every critical measure.”

Targeting fast food workers has been a new goal of unions. Hundreds of McDonald’s, Burger King, and workers from other chains have walked off their jobs in a series of strikes across the country to demand upwards of $15/hour. In fact, boosting wages of fast food workers is the primary goal of the SEIU – whose former President visited the White House more often than any other person during President Obama’s first year in office. Are you noticing an access to the Obama White House trend, here?

While organizing the fast food industry remains a goal, unions have had success getting marijuana dealers to organize. The UFCW, the nation’s largest union for retail workers, claims several thousand marijuana dealers are now dues paying members. These dealers are allegedly seeking to legitimize their industry and secure a pension at the same time. Um, they should be careful what they wish for.

Regardless whether through Big Macs or Mary Jane, unions need to increase their membership before becoming inconsequential. And to unions, the fast food worker pushing burgers and fries is the same as the drug dispensary worker selling White Widow (thank you Internet) – a monthly dues check. Unions cannot exist without dues checks; they are, after all, a business just like the ones they bad mouth.

Matt Austin is a Columbus, Ohio lawyer who owns Austin Legal, LLC, a boutique law firm with offices in central and northeast Ohio that limits its representation to employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can always call Matt at 614.843.3041 or email him at