This account is pending registration confirmation. Please click on the link within the confirmation email previously sent you to complete registration.
Need a new registration confirmation email? Click here
TheStreet Open House

Unions Focus on Fast Food Worker Battle

Stock quotes in this article: WMT,TGT

NEW YORK (TheStreet) -- As the Great Depression began to lift in the late 1930s, unions in heavy industry changed the face of the country. The turning point came in 1935 with the passage of the Wagner Act in Washington. 

The act legalized workers' right to unionize, bargain collectively and strike, and created the National Labor Relations Board to stop companies from interfering with union organizing. Workers' pay went up and workplace conditions improved.  But some business historians say the high wages and good working conditions won in those days later caused manufacturing to leave the U.S. for Asia.

In the wake of the Great Recession, the history of American unionization may be rewritten. Unions are targeting fast food and retail industries that may find it harder to move than auto plants did, but which may also prove impossible to organize. Plus, retail costs might rise substantially if companies need to pay higher wages.

How much of an impact will unions make in 2014 and beyond? That's what some of the country's biggest employers, from Wal-Mart  (WMT) and Target  (TGT) to McDonald's  (MCD) and Yum! Brands' (YUM) Kentucky Fried Chicken are wondering this holiday season.

Investors should be asking that question as well.

The Service Employees International Union, or SEIU, has been a primary mover in the new round of labor agitation. This week, the SEIU is backing actions by fast food workers in 100 cities aimed at raising the minimum wage. Their goal is a wage of $15 an hour.

Unions called their events "flash strikes" in that they're not permanent walk-outs, and union funds can make up the lost wages.

1 of 3

Select the service that is right for you!

COMPARE ALL SERVICES
Action Alerts PLUS
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer and Stephanie Link actively manage a real portfolio and reveal their money management tactics while giving advanced notice before every trade.

Product Features:
  • $2.5+ million portfolio
  • Large-cap and dividend focus
  • Intraday trade alerts from Cramer
  • Weekly roundups
TheStreet Quant Ratings
Try it NOW
Only $49.95/yr

Access the tool that DOMINATES the Russell 2000 and the S&P 500.

Product Features:
  • Buy, hold, or sell recommendations for over 4,300 stocks
  • Unlimited research reports on your favorite stocks
  • A custom stock screener
  • Upgrade/downgrade alerts
Stocks Under $10
Try it NOW

David Peltier, uncovers low dollar stocks with extraordinary upside potential that are flying under Wall Street's radar.

Product Features:
  • Model portfolio
  • Stocks trading below $10
  • Intraday trade alerts
  • Weekly roundups
Dividend Stock Advisor
Try it NOW

Jim Cramer's protege, David Peltier, identifies the best of breed dividend stocks that will pay a reliable AND significant income stream.

Product Features:
  • Diversified model portfolio of dividend stocks
  • Alerts when market news affect the portfolio
  • Bi-weekly updates with exact steps to take - BUY, HOLD, SELL
Real Money Pro
Try it NOW

All of Real Money, plus 15 more of Wall Street's sharpest minds delivering actionable trading ideas, a comprehensive look at the market, and fundamental and technical analysis.

Product Features:
  • Real Money + Doug Kass Plus 15 more Wall Street Pros
  • Intraday commentary & news
  • Ultra-actionable trading ideas
Options Profits
Try it NOW

Our options trading pros provide daily market commentary and over 100 monthly option trading ideas and strategies to help you become a well-seasoned trader.

Product Features:
  • 100+ monthly options trading ideas
  • Actionable options commentary & news
  • Real-time trading community
  • Options TV
To begin commenting right away, you can log in below using your Disqus, Facebook, Twitter, OpenID or Yahoo login credentials. Alternatively, you can post a comment as a "guest" just by entering an email address. Your use of the commenting tool is subject to multiple terms of service/use and privacy policies - see here for more details.
Submit an article to us!
DOW 17,042.90 -28.32 -0.17%
S&P 500 1,972.29 -5.51 -0.28%
NASDAQ 4,493.39 -12.4620 -0.28%

Brokerage Partners

Rates from Bankrate.com

  • Mortgage
  • Credit Cards
  • Auto

Free Newsletters from TheStreet

My Subscriptions:

After the Bell

Before the Bell

Booyah! Newsletter

Midday Bell

TheStreet Top 10 Stories

Winners & Losers

Register for Newsletters
Top Rated Stocks Top Rated Funds Top Rated ETFs