The Fight For $15 Strikes Out

In the aftermath of the 2016 elections, Bloomberg reported that the SEIU planned a significant 30 percent funding cut. The pricey Fight for $15 campaign–on which the union has spent $90-million+ thus far, with little in the way of direct union benefit to show for it–was expected to be on the chopping block.

A new EPI analysis suggests that this was indeed the case. After a peak of 340 strikes in cities across the nation last year, the movement has failed to keep pace in 2017. The campaign previously held 2 to 3 national strikes per year, sometimes supplemented by smaller regional strikes. In 2017, the organization’s only national branded effort was a co-sponsored strike with “Black Lives Matter” occurring in just 30 cities.

You can find the full list of national and regional “Fight for $15” strikes since 2012 here. The graph below shows a timeline of national strikes since 2013 and the sharp decline earlier this year:

The momentum for the Fight for $15 has been faltering. Policymakers in left-of-center municipalities such as Baltimore, Cleveland, and Montgomery County, MD, have declined to endorse $15, noting its negative impact on small businesses. Real world stories from cities across the country found on our sister site,, show the lost jobs, fewer hours, and reduced earnings due to minimum wage hikes.

Recent minimum wage studies highlight how hikes have hurt employers and employees–destroying the campaign’s credibility in assuring higher wages and better jobs. In San Francisco, a Harvard Business School minimum wage study using Yelp ratings found that middle-tier restaurants in the city were more likely to close due to minimum wage increases. In Seattle, where the minimum wage is gradually increasing to $15 for all employers, a study conducted by the University of Washington found that employee earnings decreased by $125 per month in addition to 3.5 million lost hours per calendar quarter. Just last week, Montgomery County, Maryland released a study which showed the county would lose over 45,000 jobs if the minimum wage were increased, in addition to millions of dollars in lost disposable income.