The Service Employees International Union, one of the nation's largest and most powerful labor organizations, spent more than $14 million last year to promote the push for a $15 an hour minimum wage, according to a report the union filed with the Labor Department Thursday.

The figure shows the extent to which the movement has been stage-managed by unions, which benefit from higher minimum wages since they make non-union labor less competitive.

SEIU, which claims more than two million members, poured at least $12.7 million in 2016 into various organizing committees involved in staging protests and other events, according to its annual LM-2 filing with the Labor Department. That includes $3.6 million to the Fast Food Workers Committee, the main group behind the "Fight For $15" movement, as well as nearly $9 million to various regional workers committees engaged in similar activism. Kendall Fells, the organizing director of Fight for $15, is listed in the SEIU's filing as a "deputy organizing director" at a salary of $146,000.

Another $1.7 million went to the public relations firm Berlin Rosen, which has been prominent in promoting the movement.

Richard Berman, president of the conservative Center for Union Facts, noted that while the unions have gotten several states to adopt the higher wages, it has yet to help them much in organizing workers. "While the SEIU has scored some legislative victories, the union continues to bleed money with no major restaurant organizing win to show for it," Berman said.

Neither the SEIU nor the Fight for $15 responded to a request for comment.

SEIU has been underwriting the $15 minimum wage movement for years. The movement itself was largely the brainchild of David Rolf, president of SEIU Local 775, which represents Washington state workers. He was instrumental in getting Seattle-Tacoma to adopt a $15 rate in 2014, which boosted similar efforts in other cities and states.

In a candid speech at a forum hosted by the liberal Economic Policy Institute in July, Rolf said the SEIU's efforts began in 2012 with a series of strikes it organized with fast-food workers in New York City. "It was one of three pilot [programs] that we were testing in SEIU about strikes for dramatically better wages," he said. The other two programs SEIU ran involved retail workers in Chicago and coffee shop workers in Seattle. Neither of those were successful, but the New York one got some traction — an estimated 200 fast-food workers walked off their jobs — so the union focused its energies on that sector.

"Nationally we decided to resource this fight for $15 in the fast-food sector to start with," Rolf said.

The Service Employees International Union, one of the nation's largest and most powerful labor organizations, spent more than $14 million last year to promote the push for a $15 an hour minimum wage, according to a report the union filed with the Labor Department Thursday.

The figure shows the extent to which the movement has been stage-managed by unions, which benefit from higher minimum wages since they make non-union labor less competitive.

SEIU, which claims more than two million members, poured at least $12.7 million in 2016 into various organizing committees involved in staging protests and other events, according to its annual LM-2 filing with the Labor Department. That includes $3.6 million to the Fast Food Workers Committee, the main group behind the "Fight For $15" movement, as well as nearly $9 million to various regional workers committees engaged in similar activism. Kendall Fells, the organizing director of Fight for $15, is listed in the SEIU's filing as a "deputy organizing director" at a salary of $146,000.

Another $1.7 million went to the public relations firm Berlin Rosen, which has been prominent in promoting the movement.

Richard Berman, president of the conservative Center for Union Facts, noted that while the unions have gotten several states to adopt the higher wages, it has yet to help them much in organizing workers. "While the SEIU has scored some legislative victories, the union continues to bleed money with no major restaurant organizing win to show for it," Berman said.

Neither the SEIU nor the Fight for $15 responded to a request for comment.

SEIU has been underwriting the $15 minimum wage movement for years. The movement itself was largely the brainchild of David Rolf, president of SEIU Local 775, which represents Washington state workers. He was instrumental in getting Seattle-Tacoma to adopt a $15 rate in 2014, which boosted similar efforts in other cities and states.

In a candid speech at a forum hosted by the liberal Economic Policy Institute in July, Rolf said the SEIU's efforts began in 2012 with a series of strikes it organized with fast-food workers in New York City. "It was one of three pilot [programs] that we were testing in SEIU about strikes for dramatically better wages," he said. The other two programs SEIU ran involved retail workers in Chicago and coffee shop workers in Seattle. Neither of those were successful, but the New York one got some traction — an estimated 200 fast-food workers walked off their jobs — so the union focused its energies on that sector.

"Nationally we decided to resource this fight for $15 in the fast-food sector to start with," Rolf said.