By Ross Beroff, Editorial Columnist
Northeastern is home to many activist movements and groups on campus. One of the loudest is the Fight for $15 movement. Due to its prominence on campus and propensity for lying to promote its message, a closer look at the organizations backing this movement is warranted.
In regards to last year’s referendum question to determine campus support for the movement, organizers have been saying that 75 percent of students voted to increase the campus minimum wage.This would be quite impressive, and show true popular support, yet this number is not representative of the student body as only 25 percent actually voted. This misrepresentation of support has led to an overestimation of the size of the movement as well as its grassroots nature.
Many of the ideas for, and the financial support behind, Fight for $15 comes from major union organizations, especially the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), an organization that has been trying to exert its outside pressure all over campus through adjunct professors, as well as the minimum wage issue. According to the website for the Socialist Alternative, in regard to aspects of the movement, the SEIU is “the driving force behind these actions.” The SEIU has been spending millions of dollars on the national campaign, sometimes in just one city alone. However, there has been minimal success with few tangible results.
What occurred at Northeastern cannot be considered a success, especially considering the lack of acknowledgement by the administration or promises to move forward with raising wages. These millions of dollars have been wasted, while it has been reported that the pensions for the union members are drying up. What many people don’t realize is that a lot of these workers were forced to join or risk losing their jobs. Due to the top-down organizational structure, many also have no say in the operations of the SEIU and are essentially being forced to pay for a campaign they may or may not support. This is all occurring while they are slowly losing guarantees of a safe retirement.
The SEIU is not the only large organization leading the Fight for $15. Alongside it is fellow union organization the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations (AFL-CIO). Much of the work on this effort is done through the Working Families Organization (WFO). WFO has advertised a job opening for a field organizer to work on the 15 Now topic, yet only offered $12.25 per hour. They explained that the wage would be raised after a probationary period, a similar system to what token socialist, Seattle City Council member Kshama Sawant, has refused to accept. This is not to say that $12.25 is unreasonable pay, especially when an SEIU organizer, Kendall Fells, made the number seem rather arbitrary, saying “$10 was too low and $20 was too high, so we landed at $15.”
The loud voices on our campus are always complaining about how much Northeastern University President Joseph E. Aoun gets paid, ignoring the reasons for his pay such as to prevent him from doing the same job elsewhere. However, the executives are also getting paid outrageous multiples of the average worker based on the same standards to which Aoun is held. Basic economics and proof about the dangers of such a drastic increase in the minimum wage has done little to change the opinions of many, but hopefully seeing the truth about all this hypocrisy will finally get people to think twice and maybe finally see the light.