Golden Arches inspire SEIU, AFL-CIO wrath

Or, Why I’m Eating McDonalds For Lunch Today.  The AFL-CIO and SEIU have launched a campaign against McDonalds for the fast-food giant’s efforts to defeat Card Check.  Not only do the unions miscalculate which side public opinion will favor, they can’t even figure out which hamburger McDonalds produces:

Two of America’s largest unions have denounced McDonald’s Corp. this week following Crain’s story that the company is mobilizing franchisees against a law designed to make it easier for workers to unionize.

The Service Employee International Union encouraged its 1.8 million members to send letters to McDonald’s in support of the proposed Employee Free Choice Act. The AFL-CIO issued a press release saying it “plans to make sure the 10 million working men and women who make up our membership know that McDonald’s has just announced a whopper of a campaign against their economic interests and against their hopes for an economy that works for all, not just for the CEOs.”

McDonald’s USA President Don Thompson urged 2,400 franchisees to “contact your U.S. senators and representatives to oppose” the Employee Free Choice Act in a Nov. 25 memo obtained by Crain’s. He also wrote that McDonald’s formed a “response team” to help franchisees “actively participate in the opposition to the EFCA.”

The EFCA, or “card-check” bill, would enable unions to organize a workplace by obtaining the signatures of a majority of workers on authorization cards. Current law requires secret ballots. In addition, the legislation would establish a bargaining process that could lead to binding arbitration for labor contracts. President-elect Barack Obama supports the bill.

Hey, geniuses.  Burger King sells the Whopper.  McDonalds has the Big Mac.  And franchisees aren’t big corporate CEOs in most cases, but small business owners.

McDonalds is acting to protect its interests and its niche in the food industry.  Fast food restaurants rely on low prices, standardization, and high volume to succeed.  If labor gets too expensive for them, they have to raise prices, and eventually it will push customers to more traditional lower-end restaurants instead.

That’s not exactly rocket science, and neither is the fact that most of their labor force comes from part-time workers, usually teenagers and college students.  Forcing higher wages through either unionization or through minimum-wage increases jacks up the internal costs with no corresponding benefit from the labor and creates pressure to increase prices, shrink the labor pool, or both.  Teenage unemployment shot up this year after the minimum-wage increase from 2007, and McDonalds will have to employ fewer still if Card Check starts unionizing their franchises.

If the AFL-CIO and SEIU want to unionize McDonalds, then let them do it through the secret ballot.  McDonalds has every right and a corporate responsibility to defend against the assault on their industry Card Check represents, and to attempt to stop union intimidation of its workers.  If you agree, drive through your local Mickey D’s and pick up a burger.  Just make sure not to order a Whopper.