What would happen if Charleston "Fight for $15" protestors got their way?

Dozens of "Fight for $15" activists protested at a downtown Charleston McDonald's restaurant in favor of a $15 minimum wage earlier today — and several were arrested. How "grassroots" is the campaign — and how would a $15 minimum wage impact the economy?


@Raiseupfor15 photo of Nov. 29 "Fight for 15" protest in Charleston, SC   http://www.Twitter.com/RaiseUpfor15

Dozens of "Fight for $15" activists protested at a downtown Charleston McDonald's restaurant in favor of a $15 minimum wage earlier today — and several were arrested for blocking traffic on the "Crosstown." 

The protest is part of the national "Fight for $15" campaign, which is billed as a "grassroots" movement.

How "grassroots" is the campaign — and how would a $15 minimum wage impact the economy?

"While cleverly packaged as a genuine grassroots movement, the campaign is — in reality — a front organized and funded by the Service Employees International Union (SEIU), the country’s largest labor union," wrote Glenn Spencer, vice president of the U.S. Chamber of Commerce's Workforce Freedom Initiative, in a Richmond Times-Dispatch op-ed in August. "In fact, according to U.S. Department of Labor reports, the SEIU has spent roughly $55 million on these activities."

According to Spencer, the protest in Charleston today is similar to ones might see from the group in other cities throughout the country.

"These protests are billed as 'strikes,' although only a handful of individuals seem to have actually walked off their jobs," wrote Spencer. "Instead, one typically sees small groups of protesters outside a local restaurant who, after a brief demonstration, are bused off to another city to repeat the process."

If the protesters were to get their way, the impact on South Carolina's economy could be dramatic, according to a recent study by the Heritage Foundation. That study found that a minimum wage of $15, if phased in at the state or federal level, could cost South Carolina between 165,000 and 179,000 jobs.

“You don’t have to be an economics professor to understand that the government’s efforts to continue to raise costs on employers kills American jobs,” South Carolina Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Ted Pitts told Palmetto Business Daily, in response to that Heritage Foundation study.

In an interview with Palmetto Business Daily last February, Joe Carter, senior editor at the Acton Institute, said that a minimum wage increase could hurt the poor.

“The primary reason the Acton Institute is against it is because it hurts the poor,” Carter said. “We are very pro-poor and the minimum wage is probably one of the harshest policies against the poor in America today.”

“People assume that people who are for minimum wage are for helping the poor and people against the minimum wage are against the poor," added Carter. "Actually, they are both for the poor, it is just that one group says we are going to help this poor at the expense of other poor people. The anti-minimum wage people are saying no, we shouldn’t hurt any of the poor people. We shouldn’t be pitting one group of poor people against the other."

A South Carolina minimum wage hike isn't likely to happen soon, as the state legislature defeated a bill to raise the minimum wage earlier this year.

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Organizations in this Story

Acton Institute SEIU South Carolina Chamber of Commerce The Heritage Foundation U.S. Chamber Workforce Freedom Initiative

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