To Henry’s allies, that’s an outmoded way of thinking about labor. SEIU Healthcare Illinois President Keith Kelleher says a potential model could be the New York–based Freelancers Union, which doesn’t have collective bargaining deals with individual companies. Instead, it funds itself by taking commissions on health insurance and other services sold to its members. “If it has the power to raise wages and it contains a model for organizational resiliency and standards enforcement, does it matter?” asks David Rolf, president of the largest SEIU local in Washington state. Given the challenges unions face, Henry says, “you can’t go smaller in this moment. You have to go bigger.”
The bottom line SEIU, the second-largest U.S. union, has won a $15 minimum wage in California but no union contracts for fast-food workers.