Conservatives call fast food worker protests publicity 'stunts'

Conservatives are calling the ongoing fast food employee protests dressed up public relations “stunts.” 

Backed by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), fast-food workers have been picketing for minimum $15 an hour wages and union rights since November 2012. 

But during a press call Tuesday, Glenn Spencer, vice president of the Chamber of Commerce Workforce Freedom Initiative said the vast majority of protesters are SEIU members and SEIU allies, not employees of popular chains like McDonalds, Burger King and Domino’s. 

“These local franchise business owners and employees don’t need to be subjected to the intimidation tactics of the SEIU,” he said. 

The teleconference, hosted by Worker Center Watch, comes two days before another day of protests conservatives say are SEIU events to unionize the fast-food industry and pad its pockets.

Employees who are part of unions pay union dues and initiation fees. It’s why, according to Diana Furchtgott-Roth, senior fellow with the Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, the SEIU has specifically targeted the fast-food industry — high employee turnover means more people paying union membership fees.

Furchtgott-Roth, whose first job was scooping ice cream at Baskin-Robbins for $3.25 an hour, said the demands are uncharacteristic of entry-level employees. 

“If you were making minimum wage, you wouldn’t right away say, ‘I want a 100 percent raise,’ ” she said. 

 “SEIU is picking $15 because it’s something that makes headlines.” 

But interest might be waning. In September, dozens of fast-food workers were arrested for blocking traffic in front restaurants during protests, in what Spencer said was an SEIU ploy to regain the media’s attention. 

“The new tactics we see SEIU using are a sign of weakness,” he said. “Fewer people are paying attention to these type of protests.”

To create the illusion of numbers, Spencer said the SEIU has invited airport workers to join Thursday’s protests. The SEIU declined to comment on the allegations on Tuesday.