SEIU Spends Big on Low-Wage Campaign

The Service Employees International Union (SEIU) has spent tens of millions of dollars on a three-year campaign to increase the wages paid to retail and fast-food workers. Was it money well spent?

In recent months, cities have passed or introduced laws requiring higher wages within city limits – oftentimes exempting union companies, thus making unionization the “cheaper” option. Several large, nationwide employers have also raised minimum pay.

Despite the SEIU’s efforts to cozy up to low-wage workers, no fast-food workers have joined the SEIU’s membership since the campaign began. The SEIU remains optimistic that “there will be a breakthrough in having the union recognized as part of this growing movement.” Of course, there is a lot at stake for the SEIU in turning the fast-food workers into dues paying members. One report pegged projected dues at hundreds of millions of dollars per year in the fast food industry, alone. Coupling that with the local ordinance penalizing non-union companies, and unions may find themselves awash in billions of additional revenue over the next few years.

Matt Austin is a lawyer based in the Columbus, Ohio office of Roetzel & Andress, LPA who limits his practice to representing employers dealing with labor, employment, and OSHA matters. You can call Matt at (614) 723-2010 or email him at