Fight for $15’s Labor Day “Strike” Curtain Call

Movement struggling after funding cut, legislator rejection, critical studies
  • Publication Date: September 2017

  • Topics: Minimum Wage

WASHINGTON D.C. — Today, the Employment Policies Institute (EPI) highlighted the exhausted momentum of the SEIU’s Fight for $15, which has suffered numerous financial, academic, and legislative setbacks in recent months. Yet another round of coordinated Fight for $15 protests are set to occur nationwide on Labor Day. This is just the latest Fight for $15 media stunt; previous ones have included the promise of civil disobedience and partnering with the Black Lives Matter movement.

This round of protests occurs as the SEIU undergoes a dramatic pullback in its Fight for $15 advocacy. It spent at least $90 million of member dues between 2012 and 2016 on the Fight for $15, but with little to show for it besides some policy victories in progressive localities. The SEIU announced earlier this year that it was cutting its budget by nearly one-third. A recent EPI analysis shows that the Fight for $15 has subsequently reduced its number of strikes from 340 in 2016 to 30 in 2017. Read EPI’s full analysis here.

The Fight for $15’s momentum has also been stalled by a series of recent legislative defeats and economic studies showing the consequences of minimum wage hikes.

·  A June University of Washington study of Seattle’s incoming $15 minimum wage found reduced jobs, reduced hours, and lower earnings associated with the latest phase of the wage hike.

·   An April Harvard Business School study found that median-rated restaurants in the San Francisco Bay Area were significantly more likely to go out of business because of the area’s incoming $15 minimum wage.

·  An August National Bureau of Economic Research study which shows the share of automatable jobs held by less-skilled workers has decreased because of minimum wage increases.

EPI has been chronicling these stories of job loss, automation, lost hours and other consequences of dramatic minimum wage increases at our website

In response to this growing body of academic evidence, wage hike legislation has been struck down in numerous legislatures and localities over the past year.


·  Missouri – The legislature passed preemption legislation which was signed by the Governor.

·  Illinois – Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed a minimum wage increase.

·  Cook County, Illinois – Over two-thirds of the county’s 134 municipalities opted out of the county’s minimum wage ordinance.

·  Nevada -Governor Sandoval vetoed a minimum wage increase.

·  New Mexico – Governor Martinez vetoed a minimum wage increase.

·  Iowa – The state legislature passed preemption legislation which was signed by the Governor.

·  Miami Beach, Florida – A judge struck down the city’s minimum wage increase.

·  Flagstaff, Arizona where a minimum wage increase was delayed.

·  Baltimore Maryland, – The mayor vetoed a minimum wage increase.

·  Montgomery County, Maryland – The county executive vetoed a minimum wage increase.

·  Ohio – The legislature passed preemption legislation which was signed by the Governor.


On the Federal level, the recently introduced Raise the Wage Act, which seeks to raise the federal minimum wage to $15, remains stalled in committee with only Democrats as sponsors. An EPI analysis shows that 95 percent of cosponsors of the Raise the Wage Act have unpaid interns. Senator Bernie Sanders, the bill’s sponsor, only pays his interns $12 per hour. Read the full analysis here.

“The good news this Labor Day is that labor unions’ job-destroying $15 campaign is failing. Economists of all political stripes have denounced $15, and even policymakers in left-of-center locales have rejected it.” said Michael Saltsman, managing director at Employment Policies Institute.

For more information, visit To schedule an interview, contact Sean Kumnick at (202) 463-7650 or

The Employment Policies Institute is a nonprofit research organization dedicated to studying public policy issues surrounding employment growth. In particular, EPI focuses on issues that affect entry-level employment. EPI receives support from restaurants, foundations, and individuals.